Follow up with your doctor to report your progress. If you are doing well, s/he may want you to wean off the medication, or based on your feedback, may extend the prescription. If you’re not satisfied with the results or are suffering side effects, you may wish to consider changing the dose or using another anti-craving medicine.
Don’t be ashamed if you end up on the medication indefinitely. Just like diabetes, alcoholism is a chronic, often progressive, long-term disease which often requires pharmacological intervention. Now that scientists are beginning to decode the brain’s addictive pathways, they finally have a way to address receptors that result in craving.
Continue to integrate other important strategies into your program, particularly as you dose down from any medication. This includes nutrition, diet, exercise, dietary supplements, and positive visualization–to help maintain your healthy new lifestyle.
A number of medications are prescribed for alcohol craving and cessation. You can find a great deal of information at pharmacology websites, but do a search online for the “PI” (prescribing information) sheet for each one and you’ll find much more detail before speaking with your doctor. The medications most often prescribed to control craving typically include: Acamprosate, Baclofen, Naltrexone, Ondansetron, Revia, Rimonabant, Topiramate and Vivitrol.
Reward yourself for your accomplishments. Treat yourself when you reach a sobriety milestone (one day, one week, 30 days, three months, one year, etc.) And remember to not give up if you relapse. The road to recovery is not always straight and narrow.
Spirituality is often a very important component in achieving sobriety. In fact, it has been documented in clinical studies to be helpful for those who struggle with addiction. Whether you continue to follow a traditional religion or choose to explore new paths of enlightenment, the reflection and self awareness that result can be very powerful and meaningful in your quest for newfound health.
If you don’t have immediate or easy access to a medical library, search Google Scholar to find excellent abstracts from clinical journals about the medication/s in which you are interested.
Alternative treatments have become increasingly popular in addressing alcoholism. Do some research and consider adding acupuncture, EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), hypnotherapy, therapeutic massage, or other approaches.
Subscribe to online blogs, newsletters and websites that push information out about new developments in addiction research. It’s important you become an advocate in your own health plan. Often patients are as well informed about new developments as the physicians who treat them!
Don’t assume a “magic pill” will fix your drinking problem. Alcohol dependence is a serious and complex health condition. Medication can be enormously helpful in eliminating physical craving, but you must still address the underlying reasons that cause you to drink. Here’s where the real work begins and it’s a wonderful opportunity to turn your life around. But if you expect to find salvation in a prescription, you may be sorely disappointed.
Some people shy away from visiting their doctors and simply order anti-craving medication from online pharmacies. You must be careful because many of these drugs are powerful and may have serious side effects or can interact with medications you are currently taking. In addition, you can’t be sure of the reputation of the pharmacy from whom you are ordering or the quality of the product they send you. It is prudent to undergo a program with the care and counseling of a qualified health care provider and to purchase medication from a trusted source.
Be prepared: your physicians may reject any proposal to prescribe medication. Remember that the average doctor receives approximately 12 hours of training in addiction treatment during his or her medical schooling; some are poorly prepared to deal with this difficult health concern. You must be proactive and find someone to help you. If your doctor turns you away, insist on a referral and do not give up until you find someone who is willing to work with you
Cravings come out of the blue, sometimes months or years later. Be prepared for them. Moments of stress, hunger or sleep deprivation may contribute to these urges. Have a strategy in place, a friend to call, or some plan of action when and if a craving hits
Incredibly, some people find their plans for new found sobriety are sabotaged right at home. Partners may fear losing a drinking buddy or control over a mate. Resentment may crop up. Relationships change. Be prepared for this beforehand and address it if you think it will be a problem. You will need support from all sectors during this very important time.