Medication and alcohol misuse

Emerging evidence – there isn’t much evidence on this treatment option yet, but the research that has been carried out suggests that it could be helpful.

Your doctor might prescribe you a medication called Acamprosate if:

Acamprosate can help you to avoid drinking alcohol by reducing the cravings caused by alcohol dependence. It is usually prescribed for about 6 months after you have stopped drinking alcohol. It’s important to know that acamprosate is not a cure for alcohol misuse and doesn’t work on its own, so you will usually have other support at the same time as taking the medication. You can find more information about acamprosate and its side-effects here.

Although there is good evidence that acamprosate works well for adults there is little evidence on whether it can be helpful for young people. There are also other medications which are prescribed for adults that are not usually prescribed for children and young people. These include:

  • Nalmafene, which is offered to people who drink heavily but do not have symptoms of dependence (including withdrawal symptoms) and helps to reduce the urge to drink alcohol.
  • Naltrexone, which can be offered to people who have been physically dependent on alcohol to help prevent relapse by blocking the effects of alcohol and reducing the urge to drink.
  • Disulfiram, which is offered to people who have tried to stop drinking but had relapses or are worried about relapsing. It causes an unpleasant reaction if the person drinks any alcohol and can help people to avoid drinking.

Treatments outlined on these webpages may not be available in every local area. It’s important that you discuss with your GP or mental health professional the treatment options available to you. You can also search for services near you on our Youth Wellbeing Directory and find out more about referral processes here.

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