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Are there medicines that can be given to quit alcohol addiction ?

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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2003
Answered : 336 Questions
Hello doctor,
My husband is addicted to alcohol, tobacco and nicotine. He has been using these for almost 10-12 yrs. His alcoholic misbehavior has now become intolerant. He gets very aggressive after drinking, but the next the he doesn't remember what he said or did last night. My personal married life has become miserable. He refuses to quit. Are there medicines available which I can give him without his knowledge to make him quit alcohol. Pls guide me, am very upset.
Shweta, Kanpur.
Posted Tue, 17 Apr 2012 in Smoking and Alcohol Addiction
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 1 hour later

Thanks for your query.

Alcohol addiction is a social evil, that causes a lot of strain on the family involved and results in disruption of lives of many associated.

I understand that it is a very difficult situation for you.

Making your husband quit his habits is not easy, as it seems, but is also not impossible. You will need lots of help from your family to get through this situation.

The first and foremost step - would be convince your husband, and help him make up his mind to quit both alcohol and smoking. I would advise you to please him and take him to a counsellor / Addiction Medicine Specialist in your city. Your job is always to please him to take for the counsellor according to the appointment. The rest of the job is slightly easy with the family and friend support.

It is not possible to slip in medications, that will help your husband quit smoking or drinking alcohol without his knowledge. If such a thing, is done, as soon he drinks alcohol, he might suffer reactions that might result in irreversible damage to his health. He will have to be treated after he is willing to undergo treatment on his own and without any coercion.

Addiction to alcohol and tobacco - are very difficult to treat without the addicted person having the insight to his problem and having the will power and grit to quit.

Tobacco / Smoking addiction is much easier to quit than alcohol. Nicotine replacement therapy is the cornerstone for cessation of smoking. This can be provided in the form of nicotine gum or skin patches with specific dosage that will help to provide the nicotine that is gained by smoking and help him quit the habit. But this is a replacement therapy and he should not smoke while on this therapy. Treatment for 3 months duration, will help him quit smoking.

Stopping drinking alcohol after a prolonged period of drinking that lasts for longer than a few weeks to multiple years is difficult, as it is associated with withdrawal symptoms. Such Withdrawal symptoms range from mild discomfort to actual medical distress. After a prolonged period of drinking the body becomes dependent on the chemicals that are contained in alcohol that make it extremely hard to quit drinking on their own. For this reason it is medically advisable, that an alcoholic thinking about quitting, should be under the supervision of a medical professional.

You might speak to all your relatives who can then speak to your husband, about the situation, and then make him realize the pain he is putting on his family. You might also ask him to consult a psychiatrist who can counsel him and supervise his de-addiction program.

I do understand that you will have many other questions, to solve your current problem, and i shall be happy to answer them and guide you to achieve a happy solution.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Are there medicines that can be given to quit alcohol addiction ? 2 hours later

Thankyou for replying to my query. As i had mentioned in my question that he refuses to quit. All my family members and friends have also tried. Infact, there had been serious issues due to his misconducts and abuses after drinking and we had to face a lot of public humiliation. However, this also has not worked to motivate him to quit things that had become a cause to even divorce. But, leaving him would only devastate his life further. I, therefore, wish to do whatever i can on my behalf to restore his life and our family.

I have heard that there are a few homeopathic medicines which can help me fulfill my motive. Is it possible? Yes, i have heard of drugs which work as antagonists for alcohol and cause problems for the drinker who finally starts hating drinking. Can u guide me with them.

There is just no way i can convince him. 3 yrs back i had even taken him to a marriage counsellour and a psychiatrist, but nothing really worked. Pls try to understand my situation and help me to your best.

Thank You.
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 40 minutes later

I am sympathetic to your cause. I hope you follow the advice that I have provided here, which in some instances might seem to be very hard. But In difficult and trying situations, harsh measures have to be adopted to help a person not responding to regular measures.

Long term alcoholics, just like your husband, who cannot hold their drink, can be a nuisance to their family and also the society. They tend to be selfish in their motives and do not care for people who love or care for them.

I do understand your situation and concern for your husband. From the history provided it seems that you have done everything in your power to help him.

But you need to understand a fact, that you as a person can do only as much within your limits to change his ways and help him to modify himself. But a person interested to change should have a will power in himself to change. But in long term alcoholics, this motivation is forgotten as soon as he consumes alcohol. Hence change is a distant mirage in such cases.

Since he is not responding to usual requests by you and other friends and family, adopting harsher measures might be indicated.

1. A family intervention and compulsory rehabilitation program - as a inpatient in a deaddiction center would help him quit the habit.

2. If that does not work, or if he relapses and resumes his old ways, then it will be very difficult to change him.

With regard to medications, there are many medications that can be used to help avoid alcohol completely. But these medications cause serious life-threatening effects, if the person continues to drink inspite of being on such medications. If you avail such medications and give it to him without his knowledge, it can also cause his death, when he drinks alcohol in excess.

Hence medications to abstain from alcohol, should be given after enrolling in a supervised deaddiction program , which will take few weeks. These medications are not routinely provided on a Outpatient basis, specially in case of your husband, who is not interested in quitting alcohol.

Some Anti craving medications that are given under supervision to treat alcoholics include:- Naltrexone (Oral), Vivitrol (I.M. Depot Naltrexone) ;Campral (Acamprosate)
Topamax (Topiramate) ; Baclofen ; Chantix (varenicline) and Zofran (ondansetron).

You might consult with a psychiatrist who can provide them to your husband after proper counselling and admitting him to a deaddiction program.

I hope the advice provided here is helpful to clear your doubts.

I shall be available to answer any of your persisting doubts.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Are there medicines that can be given to quit alcohol addiction ? 11 hours later

Thankyou for your advice. As for the medication that you have advised, i have read about their side effects. Do you have any knowledge of any homeopathic medicine, as homeopathic medicines don't have side effects. I am sure he will never make to any rehabilitation center and therefore i am dependent upon only medicines. Pls see what u can do for me in this context.

Thanking you.
Answered by Dr. Deepak Anvekar 4 hours later
Thanks for the follow up.

There are some homeopathic medications which have been used for treatment of alcohol deaddiction. These include :-

1. Strophanthus hispidus
2. Angelicin tincture Q (mother tincture ) - which is given - five drops . three times daily , produces disgust for liquor .
3. Quercus glandium spiritus Q ( mother tincture ) antidotes effects of alcohol , vertigo , deafness , with noises in head , takes away craving for alcoholics.

But these medications are available only by prescription and also are given under supervision by a licenced homeopathy practitioner.

You might consult a homeopathy specialist who can help you and guide you accordingly.

I hope you succeed in helping your husband quit this habit soon.

Wish you a good health.
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