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Alcohol Treatment

Alcohol Addiction Treatment Atlanta WellStep Atlanta offers the most up-to-date and effective medical and behavioral treatments for alcohol cravings, relapse prevention and binge drinking. We also provide affordable outpatient alcohol detox services.

Medications used to decrease cravings may include naltrexone pills (Revia), Naltrexone monthly injections (Vivitrol), and acamprosate (Campral). Naltrexone operates by blocking opioid receptors and influencing dopamine. Acamprosate works primarily by blocking NMDA receptors.

We also prescribe antidepressants and other psychotropic medications as necessary.

WellStep offers individual counseling and optional group therapy sessions which provide the tools for long-lasting relapse prevention.

Introduction to Alcohol Treatment At WellStep - For Patients

WellStep offers two separate medical treatment programs for alcoholism. One program is outpatient detox which is designed for patients who cannot cut back their alcohol intake on their own. This program typically lasts from 5-7 days. Patients stop drinking completely and then are monitored daily as they take medications (typically benzodiazepines ) to help them comfortably detox completely from alcohol. The other treatment is designed for binge drinkers or alcoholics who have quit but are still having cravings. This treatment involves giving certain medications to reduce cravings for alcohol.

Who are good candidates for outpatient detox? First and foremost, patients who have no history of seizures or delirium tremens, who have no serious medical problems and have a family member or friend who can take them to our office each day for 5-7 days for monitoring.

On the first visit in anticipation of outpatient detox, we perform a comprehensive history and physical examination. We order lab studies as well. If we determine that a patient has stopped drinking and can safely go through detox on an outpatient basis, we will generally prescribe a benzodiazepine medication such as Librium to take every few hours to help relax the patient and stop withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, nervousness and cravings. This medication also prevents alcohol withdrawal seizures and other complications of suddenly stopping drinking. We also prescribe special dosages of thiamine, folate and a multi-vitamin. Other medications may be used as well depending on the case. We ask the patient to come in every day for 5-7 days while on detox medications for a medical evaluation. As long as a patient is motivated to stop drinking and is reasonably healthy, office-based detox is usually very successful. It’s a comfortable process and relatively inexpensive as well compared to inpatient treatment. After a few days, we can discontinue the benzodiazepines and start medications to hold down cravings. We also make recommendations for counseling as well. At WellStep, we realize that AA is not for everyone and can refer to a variety of counselors and groups.

The other treatment program we offer involves medication and counseling for two groups: binge drinkers (who drink excessively but not every day) and abstinent alcoholics who are experiencing cravings.

Binge drinkers may benefit from medications to help them hold down their drinking to moderate levels. In most cases, if a patient has had problems with binge drinking we’ll recommend that the patient stop drinking altogether but stopping the binge drinking is often an important first step in achieving abstinence.

Alcoholics who are in recovery and abstinent but who are experiencing uncomfortable alcohol cravings are also usually excellent candidates for prescription medications for alcoholism, including Naltrexone and Campral.

Naltrexone works by blocking opiate receptors involved with alcohol cravings. This medication comes in both a pill and injection. The naltrexone injection lasts for a whole month and goes by the brand name Vivitrol. Another medication to control cravings is Campral (acamprosate). This medication acts on brain transmitters to reduce craving, restlessness and insomnia after patients stop drinking for a prolonged period of time. Zofran and Topamax are other medications that are sometimes used “off label” in our practice to decrease cravings. Antabuse is an older medication that can be used a deterrent to drinking since the pill works by making patients very sick if they do drink. In order to be started on Antabuse, a spouse or family member has to agree to observe the patient take it every day.