New Methods for Alcoholism Treatment

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Can alcoholism treatment cure addiction? That’s the question on many people’s lips as we hear reports of new medications purported to cure alcoholism. There is a new drug being researched, known as gabapentin, which seems to help reduce drinking in alcoholics. However, it’s important to note that, despite these scientific advancements, medication won’t cure alcoholism 100 percent.

Why is Alcohol Addiction So Hard to Overcome?

When you have an alcohol addiction, your brain has become dependent on the substance. The effects of alcohol center around the reward centers in your brain. When you drink alcohol, those centers are activated and eventually your brain craves more alcohol to feel those rewards. New research published in JAMA Internal Medicine indicates that alcoholism can actually alter the chemical makeup of the brain, leading to feelings of anxiety and tension that are only mitigated with more alcohol.

Science is continually discovering more information about addiction and how it works, which is great news for alcoholism treatment. The more we know about addiction itself, the more we can understand about how to beat it. Although there is no cure, there are many successful methods for management.

Alcoholism Treatment: Gabapentin

Gabapentin is the generic name for a drug in development that might contribute to addiction treatment. It zeroes in on the stressful aspects of alcoholism, like those feelings of anxiety, and helps people stop drinking. In a recent study, the highest dose of gabapentin was given to 150 alcoholics; 45 percent of those reported that they had stopped drinking entirely or cut down dramatically.

What are the reasons for this medication’s surprising effects? In the past, the majority of alcoholism treatment research has focused on pleasure receptors. Existing medication worked to block cravings and reduce pleasure, but many were ineffective. Gabapentin focuses instead on the stress system in the brain and neurotransmitters like CRF, which can cause feelings of anxiety. The drug is also approved to treat epileptic seizures.

Established Methods of Alcoholism Treatment

The idea of taking a pill to treat alcoholism may be very intriguing. The fact remains that medication alone is not sufficient to treat addiction. Experts suggest that the most successful alcoholism treatment will continue to be a combination of medication and counseling. Treatment should also be adjusted depending on what stage of recovery a person is in, and developed to address their specific needs.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a collaboration of therapies that searches for the underlying causes of an addiction through counseling. You may meet with your counselor on an individual basis as well as in groups or with your family. In your therapy sessions, you work on identifying the triggers and behaviors that contribute to your addiction. By understanding the habits associated with your alcoholism, you can then create a plan to change them.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy often works in combination with medication. There are several medications on the market, and they work in different ways, so there is no one-size-fits-all pill for alcoholism treatment. Your medication (or medications) should be prescribed in consideration with your needs.