Saturday, November 16, 2013

SATURDAY REWIND: Meds boost outcomes, but no silver bullet for alcoholism

Recent news about the effective use of anti-seizure drug Gabapentin in the treatment of the symptoms of alcoholism and the growing list of approvals for the new drug Selincro (see article) draw attention to science's search for the elusive cure for the disease of alcoholism.  This article from the alcohol research news archive looks at two pharmaceutical solutions for early recovery woes, but notes there is no pill today to cure alcoholism. Period.

New research released by the Society for the Study of Addiction produced positive news about two prescription drugs used to help prevent lapse in alcoholics in treatment trying to stay sober. The drugs, acamprosate (marketing name: Campral) and naltrexone (ReVia) were found to help those struggling in different phases of recovery. Acamprosate helped manage emotional triggers in people who had already stopped drinking, naltrexone helped manage cravings in heavy drinkers who are trying to stop drinking or recently quit.

The study findings are encouraging but the medications still fall short of being a silver bullet. There is no alcoholism pill.

The slight increase in abstinence in the 2012 treatment study shows progress is being made as science looks for that alcoholism pill. Emphasis in treating alcoholism and alcohol use disorders instead remains focused on therapies such as group or one-on-one counseling and 12-step meetings or their alternatives.

The course of recovery, even for those taking the medications, centers more on talk and less on pills because while drugs like acamprosate and naltrexone help change brain chemistry, they don’t change minds. Once you take away the alcohol, sometimes with the successful use of prescribed medicine, the minds still need work. Alcoholics who slip in recovery and non-alcoholics drink for essentially the same reason: It relieves social/physical/emotional tension. With alcoholics however, their bodies are programmed differently genetically and respond to drinking with more drinking. So counseling or a 12-step meeting helps those abstinent keep from taking the first drink. Recovery has very little to do with stopping the drinking and those successful in recovery admit they’re success is based on learning or relearning how to manage life’s tensions.

Generics of both pills can be found at most pharmacies when doctor and patient agree that medication can help maintain abstinence as part of, not instead of, a sobriety plan. The generics are not currently on the lists of deeply discounted prescriptions at the three largest retail pharmacies.
-- from (see full article)

Details on the third literary award for Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, plus the new radio interview replay is available at and please read the new interview with Scott Stevens at Christoph Fisher Books.  Mr. Fisher is an acclaimed international historical fiction novelist from the UK.