Is alcohol causing problems for you or your family? Two drugs are available to help reduce cravings and increase your chance of beating alcohol for good.
One in 6 Australians drinks above the recommended safe drinking limit, which is 4 'standard drinks' on average per day for men and 2 for women. One or 2 alcohol-free days per week are advised for all drinkers. Excessive alcohol can cause liver damage, high blood pressure, brain damage and memory loss, impotence and many cancers.
Drugs for alcohol dependence
Medication may be suitable for some heavier drinkers who are dependent on alcohol and who have cravings and difficulty controlling their drinking. Both work best if you are motivated to stop drinking and when combined with counselling and regular follow-up from your GP. Both medications are usually taken for at least 3-6 months, and in some cases up to 12 months. They are subsidised under the PBS and are available at minimal cost.
Acamprosate. This medication changes chemical transmitters in the brain and this reduces cravings for alcohol. It has been tested in large numbers of patients and found to consistently increase success rates. It also appears to continue to have an effect for some time after being ceased.
Side effects, such as diarrhoea and rash are generally mild and short lasting. Acamprosate tablets are taken 3 times daily.
Naltrexone. This drug blocks the action of certain chemicals in the brain. Side effects e.g. nausea, headache and dizziness can occur, but are usually mild. Naltrexone can also cause depression and abnormal liver tests. One tablet is taken daily.
Speak to your GP for further advice.
Please note this information was correct at time of printing.
For up to date information, speak to your doctor.