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Detoxing from Drugs and Alcohol

The following are medications that may be used to treat or prevent substance abuse. It should be noted that their use is rare in treating teenage patients.

Acamprosate

Generic name: calcium acetylhomotaurinate

Use: Prevention of alcohol abuse.

Action, if known: Acamprosate is a calcium channel blocker. It seems to stimulate inhibitory GABA receptors and to antagonize excitatory amino acids, such as glutamate. This should prevent some of the pleasurable, reinforcing effects of alcohol use.

Side effects: Diarrhea

Tips: Acamprosate is available in Australia and several European countries, but is still in clinical trials in the US.

Antabuse

Generic name: disulfiram

Use: Prevention of alcohol abuse.

Action, if known: Antabuse works by inhibiting the enzyme acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, which normally breaks down the toxic by-product acetaldehyde that forms when the body metabolizes alcohol. If you drink alcohol while taking Antabuse, acetaldehyde builds up immediately and you will become violently ill.

Side effects: Drowsiness, mood swings, unusual sensations in the hands or feet (tingling or pain). Antabuse can cause or exacerbate heart or liver problems. Drinking large quantities of alcohol while taking Antabuse can actually kill you.

Tips: Antabuse should be used only as part of a complete recovery program, including counseling and peer support. People taking Antabuse should be monitored for heart and liver problems. They must also be careful to avoid healthcare and skin products that contain alcohol, including many cough syrups. In addition, they should avoid contact with the fumes of chemicals that may contain alcohol, acetaldehyde, paraldehyde, or other related substances, including paint, paint thinner, varnish, and shellac. Most doctors feel that Antabuse is of little or no help in treating alcohol addiction–it is sometime used as a punitive, court-ordered deterrence measure rather than a legitimate medical treatment.

Calan

Generic name: verapamil

Also known as: Isoptin

Use: Angina, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, prevention of alcohol abuse.

Action, if known: Calcium ion influx inhibitor.

Side effects: Dizziness, constipation, nausea. Lowers blood pressure, can cause edema (water retention in the ankles and legs).

Known interaction hazards: Do not use with beta blockers. Calan may lower your lithium level. Potentiates digoxin. Be careful with Calan if you use any other medication that affects blood pressure. May counteract or interact negatively with verapamil, Quinidine, Disopyramide, flecainide, neuromuscular blocking agents, carbamazepine, cyclosporine, theophylline. Counteracted at least somewhat by rifampin, phenobarbital, and Sulfinpyrazone. May interact with inhaled agents used in anesthesia.

Tips: Blood pressure and liver function should be monitored while taking this drug, especially in patients with known liver damage. Take Calan with food.

Narcan

Generic name: naloxone hydrochloride

Use: Treatment of opiate and narcotic overdose or addiction, reversal of the effects of anesthetics.

Action, if known: Opiate antagonist. Unlike ReVex and ReVia, Narcan counteracts all of the effects of morphine.

Side effects: May raise blood pressure, may lower the seizure threshold.

Known interaction hazards: Do not use with bisulfate or alkaline solutions.

Tips: Naloxone has not been well-tested in treating chemical dependency.

ReVex

Generic name: nalmefene hydrochloride

Use: Treatment of opiate and narcotic addiction or overdose, reversal of the effects of anesthetics.

Action, if known: Opiate antagonist. Appears to activate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis more strongly than naloxone.

Side effects: Anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, abdominal discomfort, nausea, headache, muscle or joint pain. May lower the seizure threshold.

Known interaction hazards: Alcohol and all central nervous system depressants, including anesthetics, narcotics, and sedatives. ReVia may block the effects of these substances until they reach a critical, even deadly, level.

Tips: Other than the difference already noted, ReVex is essentially the same as ReVia–see the next entry.

ReVia

Generic name: naltrexone hydrochloride

Also known as: Trexan, NTX.

Use: Heroin/opiate and alcohol addiction withdrawal aid, treatment of narcotic overdose, self-injurious behavior (SIB), reversal of the effects of anesthetics.

Action, if known: Opiate antagonist–blocks opiate chemicals.

Side effects: Anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, abdominal discomfort, nausea, headache, muscle or joint pain. May lower the seizure threshold.

Known interaction hazards: Alcohol and all central nervous system depressants, including anesthetics, narcotics, and sedatives. ReVia may block the effects of these substances until they reach a critical, even deadly, level.

Tips: According to product literature, ReVia should not be used by people who are currently addicted to drugs or alcohol–it is used only after the detox process is over, to help the person stay sober. However, a number of intensive detox centers do rely on ReVia, and it does appear to help reduce cravings for drugs and alcohol. People with liver problems must be closely monitored while taking ReVia. Recent studies indicate that ReVia (and possibly other opiate blockers) can help stop the cycle of self-injurious behavior.

Detoxing from Drugs and Alcohol

Sherrie Mcgregor, Ph.D.

APA Reference
Mcgregor, S. (2018). Detoxing from Drugs and Alcohol. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 27, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/detoxing-from-drugs-and-alcohol/

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 27 Mar 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 27 Mar 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.