Overcoming alcohol addiction is possible.
Do you know how to get over alcoholism? If you have put off quitting drinking because you are concerned about dealing with alcohol craving and alcohol withdrawal, now is the time to reconsider. Alcohol is a drug, and alcoholism is a form of drug addiction.
It is possible to overcome alcohol addiction without having to worry about withdrawal symptoms or cravings for alcohol. There are ways to overcome alcoholism without the dangers alcohol withdrawal from quitting cold turkey.
You can overcome alcoholism. Overcoming alcoholism is possible with the right tools and information.
Fortunately, in the case of alcohol, there is effective medical treatment using medication and therapy to help you to overcome alcohol addiction. Even if you have already attended inpatient rehab and alcohol detox, and you have gone back to drinking again afterwards, there exists alcohol treatment that works better than alcohol rehab for many people.
In fact, I have talked to people who have attended the best inpatient treatment programs for alcohol dependency in the world. These alcohol addiction treatment programs were not successful in helping them with quitting alcohol.
However, these same people found that medical treatment from a private doctor with experience in treating alcohol dependence with medication was highly effective in helping them to reduce alcohol consumption. Additionally, it helped to prevent binge drinking, and eventually led to addiction recovery, where the person either quit drinking alcohol altogether, or reduced alcohol consumption to a minimum.
By learning how to wean off alcohol with medical treatment using a process known as working towards extinction, rather than stopping abruptly, cold-turkey, people are able to avoid alcohol withdrawal symptoms and alcohol withdrawal syndrome in most cases. By working closely with their treatment provider, overcoming alcohol misuse, which is a form of drug abuse, is a possibility for many people who drink excessively.
If you are interested in learning more about what helps with alcohol cravings and what stops alcohol cravings, please read on. When you know how to overcome alcohol cravings, beating alcohol cravings and overcoming alcohol addiction becomes a possibility.
What if there was a vaccine for alcoholism?
Vaccines are all over the news these days. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic and news about the coronavirus vaccines, we are learning more about how different vaccines work and, most importantly, the goals of public health programs, in regard to vaccination.
As we are being educated by top health officials, the goals of vaccination are mainly harm reduction. Vaccines do not necessarily always prevent illness, but they do reduce the possibility of a person ending up very sick and in the hospital.
There has been discussion of vaccines for various drugs of abuse in the past. Imagine a vaccine that was designed to teach a person’s immune system to attack drug molecules in the body? Unfortunately, vaccines tend to work better against infectious organisms rather than chemical agents, such as drugs.
Yet, if we see the concept of a vaccine as being one of the mechanisms for harm reduction, maybe we already have a vaccine for alcoholism. What would an alcohol vaccine look like?
Ideally, we would want a vaccine that would prevent, or minimize the likelihood of alcohol abuse and alcohol misuse. The goal of such a vaccine program would be to reduce harm in the alcoholic population over the long-term.
According to some experts, we already have a vaccine for alcoholism, in the form of medication, which when taken in a specific way, can help people in beating alcohol cravings. Overcoming alcohol cravings is the best way to reduce long-term harm due to excessive alcohol intake.
What is the best medicine to quit alcohol?
There are many ways to overcome alcoholism with medical assistance. You may have heard of drugs such as disulfiram, or Antabuse, for treating alcohol use disorder.
Antabuse is essentially a chemical punishment for drinking, making the drinker physically ill when they drink. This has not proven to be very effective in helping alcoholics.
Another drug that is useful in alcohol addiction treatment is acamprosate, or Campral, which helps to generally calm down the central nervous system during alcohol withdrawal. While Campral has its uses, it is not generally as helpful as other drugs in diminishing alcohol cravings in the long-term.
Looking to the future, ondansetron, commonly known as Zofran, is being studied as a genetically targeted treatment for alcohol cravings that may be effective for specific patients who have a gene for a certain serotonin transport molecule. In addition to this research, there are ongoing studies of psychedelic drugs for the treatment of alcohol problems and other mental health issues.
Currently, the drugs that provide the best way to overcome alcohol cravings include a class of long-acting opioid receptor blockers. Naltrexone and nalmefene are two examples of these medications.
Naltrexone is widely available in the U.S., and nalmefene is primarily prescribed by doctors in Europe. Both work similarly, and they are typically interchangeable, though in some cases, one may work better than the other for specific patients.
Is there a shot that helps to reduce cravings for alcohol?
Naltrexone is available as a daily oral tablet, and it is also available as a monthly shot, known as Vivitrol. Vivitrol is mainly used to treat opioid addiction, by blocking opioid receptors, so that when a heroin addict attempts to use heroin, it will not get them high.
While Vivitrol has been used to help people remain in sobriety after inpatient or outpatient treatment, it has not proven to be the best treatment for promoting abstinence-based alcohol recovery. Research into how the brain responds to opioid blockers in relationship to alcohol has revealed that medications such as naltrexone and nalmefene work best when taken orally, and in conjunction with alcohol intake.
For patients who take the Vivitrol shot, they will likely notice a reduction in cravings, helping them to get through the alcohol deprivation syndrome that occurs up to months after quitting drinking. For this form of alcoholism treatment to work, the patient will have to stay on Vivitrol for at least several months after rehab.
A treatment protocol that is proving to be more effective in relapse prevention and beating alcohol cravings long-term is to take a naltrexone pill one hour before having a drink. This is known commonly as The Sinclair Method, or TSM.
Why don’t more people know that there is a way of overcoming alcohol addiction that has a higher success rate than rehab?
TSM has not gained widespread acceptance for several reasons. One reason is that it involves ongoing alcohol consumption, which is against the principles of many rehab programs and Alcoholics Anonymous. Another reason is that TSM makes use of naltrexone or nalmefene, two older generic pills that are not big money-makers for the pharmaceutical industry.
As usual, the answer is found by following the money. Vivitrol shots are very lucrative for the manufacturer, which has heavily lobbied lawmakers and law enforcement agencies for its use in treating addiction.
Rehabs continue to follow the AA model of group therapy and abstinence in treating all forms of addiction. Even when scientific evidence and study after study demonstrate that the abstinence-based model without medical treatment is less effective, rehabs continue to follow spiritual principles rather than scientific principles. Of course, rehab readmissions after relapse are also highly lucrative for the rehab and detox facilities.
How do we measure the success of a TSM program and how well it works to reduce alcohol cravings?
In traditional substance abuse programs, they look at “clean urines” to assess the success of their program. If a patient is able to “drop a clean urine” as they say in drug treatment clinics, then that patient is said to be successfully in recovery.
Yet, if a patient is being treated with TSM for alcoholism and they are instructed to take naltrexone with alcohol, they will, of course, test positive for alcohol. The “clean urine” is no longer a valid marker for treatment success.
Still, it is possible to clearly measure success with The Sinclair Method by tracking other indicators of improvement. Patients are often instructed to log alcohol cravings and keep track of their drinking days and alcohol-free days.
By tracking alcohol intake over time, it is possible to demonstrate the path towards extinction of the alcohol habit. Therefore, success with TSM can be objectively demonstrated when data is carefully collected.
With medication assisted treatment for alcoholism, are rehab programs still relevant for overcoming alcohol?
Currently, a patient can see a private doctor about TSM without attending rehab. They can continue with their daily life, working and being at home with their family. Is there still any reason for an alcoholic to consider going to rehab?
In some cases, a person addicted to alcohol may be in imminent danger from their addiction. They may be putting themselves or others at risk of immediate, serious harm.
Additionally, there are people who have pushed their health to the limit and should not take the chance of introducing any more alcohol into their system. A program of gradual alcohol reduction, such as The Sinclair Method, may not be the best option for patients who have serious health issues as a result of alcohol abuse.
What happens when a person really needs rehab, but they don’t want to go?
Family members may be tempted to ask their doctor, or the police, to Baker Act their loved one. They want to ensure that their loved one is taken in to be observed and treated at a psychiatric facility.
The Baker Act, which is commonly used as a verb, as in “to Baker Act someone,” is a law that allows the courts to force a person to go to up to 72 hours of mandatory mental health evaluation and treatment. The requirement for using the Baker Act is that the person is known to be a harm to themselves or others.
While this law has likely saved many lives, when it comes to addiction treatment, there may be better options. Many states have specific laws regarding mandatory addiction treatment. In Florida, it is the Marchman Act.
It is important for family members who are seeking this option to protect a loved one to be careful in what action they choose to take. I recommend consulting with a lawyer who has experience of working with clients in these situations.
What happens after rehab?
While rehabs do not have a great track record, they do work for many people. If you go to rehab and enjoy involvement in group therapy and 12-step group meetings, then you may have found the perfect environment to support your recovery.
On the other hand, if you go to rehab and then relapse later, after you have graduated from the program, maybe weeks, months, or even years afterwards, you could go back to rehab, or you could choose to take another path. In rehab and 12-step meetings, they like to say that the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing, over and over, expecting different results.
While the meaning of this saying is that people who go back to using drugs or alcohol are acting insanely, thinking that they can handle their addiction now, they never seem to see it the other way around. Is it insane to go back to rehab over and over, when it doesn’t seem to be working?
When rehab fails, there is the option of trying a different way. Medication-assisted treatment for alcohol use disorder, using medications, such as naltrexone or nalmefene is highly successful.
There is nothing wrong with exploring your options and researching to see what might be involved with various programs. There is a great deal of literature about TSM on the C3 Foundation website.
The C3 Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to educating healthcare professionals and the public about The Sinclair Method. They also provide a coaching program for people who are working with doctors, but would like additional guidance from someone with experience in the program.
Additionally, if you think that group meetings might be right for you, but you are not interested in traditional 12-step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous, there are other groups available.
For example, there is LifeRing, SMART Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and others. SMART Recovery is a science-based program in which the group leaders are trained in providing cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.
It is possible to recover with medical treatment, gradually tapering off of alcohol towards extinction of the alcohol habit. And, it is also possible to attend nonjudgmental support group meetings, if you choose to do so.
Attending groups allows you a safe place to share your experiences and to hear what has worked for other people. You will also be able to make new friends and build a network of recovery support with people whom you can trust.
If you are interested in learning more about overcoming alcohol addiction, please use our contact form on this website. It is possible to see a private doctor for concierge treatment in-person, or with telemedicine for alcohol treatment at home. If you are wondering about how to stop drinking, we can help, from West Palm Beach, to Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, and Miami, and all of Florida with our telemedicine services.