March 12, 2024

Alcohol Withdrawal Medication

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Alcohol withdrawal medication is often used in inpatient rehabs or medical detox centers. Medications used for alcohol withdrawal can also help in maintaining the chemical balance within the body, significantly reducing the likelihood of severe complications during detox.

Medications to help with alcohol withdrawal are administered by medical professionals. If any medication triggers adverse reactions or impedes the detoxification process, an alternative treatment can be promptly implemented. Read on to learn more about alcohol withdrawal syndrome medication.

Types of Medication for Alcohol Withdrawal

In cases of severe alcohol withdrawal, medications are often prescribed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. While it may seem manageable to detox at home without the benefit of medications or medical supervision, opting out of medication can provoke negative outcomes in subsequent withdrawal episodes – this is known as the kindling effect.

Detoxing taking advantage of medication to help with alcohol withdrawal may involve any of the following medications:

  • Benzodiazepines
  • Naltrexone
  • Anticonvulsants
  • Barbiturates
  • Disulfiram


Benzodiazepines (benzos) are the first-line treatment used to mitigate withdrawal symptoms during the alcohol detox phase. They work by soothing the CNS (central nervous system) and are also prescribed for conditions like insomnia, anxiety, and muscle spasms. Benzos are available in both short-acting and long-acting forms. Librium (chlordiazepoxide) and Valium (diazepam) are among the most commonly prescribed benzos in inpatient rehab environments.


Naltrexone is indicated to diminish cravings for alcohol during detox. If relapse occurs, the FDA-approved medication is effective in blocking the euphoric effects of alcohol. Due to its potential to induce withdrawal symptoms, it’s recommended to commence naltrexone treatment 7 to 10 days after the completion of detox. Available in tablet and injectable forms, the tablet is marketed under the names ReVia and Depade, while the injectable variant is branded as Vivitrol.


While benzos are preferred for managing alcohol withdrawal, anticonvulsants are considered viable alternatives, offering several advantages. They lower the risk of withdrawal seizures, so minimizing complications and cravings. Anticonvulsants prevent kindling in brain cells, have no abuse potential, and are effective in treating mood disorders that share symptoms with alcohol withdrawal – depression and anxiety, for instance. Their sedative effect is also significantly milder than the sedative effect of benzos.


Barbiturates can be an alternative treatment for alcohol withdrawal symptoms, especially in those who are resistant to benzodiazepines. They have shown significant promise in treating severe withdrawal cases in emergency and intensive care settings. 


Disulfiram acts by inhibiting an enzyme involved in metabolizing alcohol, causing unpleasant reactions, even with minimal alcohol intake. These reactions, which can start as soon as 10 minutes after alcohol consumption, include anxiety, headaches, facial flushing, sweating, blurred vision, nausea, and vomiting, potentially lasting for over an hour. By associating alcohol consumption with adverse effects, disulfiram is utilized to deter further drinking behavior. Disulfiram may be used during ongoing treatment for alcohol use disorder.

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How Do Medications for Alcohol Withdrawal Help?

Medications for alcohol withdrawal can play a part in the detoxification process by targeting various aspects of the withdrawal experience. These medications are designed to stabilize the CNS, reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, and minimize the risk of complications like seizures and neurotoxicity. By mitigating these symptoms, medications also support the person’s ability to engage with treatment and recovery activities more effectively, setting a foundation for a smoother transition to long-term sobriety. Additionally, some medications can help curb cravings for alcohol, further helping people to maintain long-term sobriety.

Getting Prescribed for Alcohol Withdrawal Medication

Securing a prescription for alcohol withdrawal medication involves a comprehensive evaluation by a healthcare professional. This process usually starts with a detailed medical history and a physical examination to assess the severity of withdrawal symptoms and any co-occurring mental health conditions. Healthcare providers may also conduct laboratory tests to gather more information about a person’s overall health status.

Based on this assessment, a doctor, often a specialist in addiction medicine, will determine the most appropriate medication regimen. This decision is influenced by variables that include the severity of the alcohol dependence, the presence of any concurrent medical or psychiatric conditions, and the person’s overall health.

Individuals should be open and honest with their healthcare providers about their drinking habits and any previous attempts to quit. This information helps ensure that treatment plans are targeted to individual needs, ensuring both safety and effectiveness during the detox phase.

After prescribing the appropriate medications, healthcare professionals will closely monitor the person’s response to treatment. This monitoring may involve regular check-ups, adjustments to the medication dosage, or switching medications if necessary to manage withdrawal symptoms effectively and minimize potential side effects.

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Get Medical Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment at Gratitude Lodge

How long alcohol withdrawal lasts is not as important as how this phase of recovery is conducted. Maximize your chances of a safe and comfortable detox experience by reaching out to Gratitude Lodge today.

When you begin your recovery with our supervised medical detox program, you will have access to FDA-approved medications, continuous clinical care, and emotional support as you withdraw from alcohol at our Long Beach or Newport Beach treatment centers.

After addressing the issue of alcohol dependence – this normally takes about a week – you can move into ongoing inpatient treatment at one of our welcoming and inclusive beachside facilities.

All alcohol addiction treatment programs at Gratitude Lodge offer personalized treatments that include:

  • Psychotherapies
  • Motivational therapies
  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group therapy
  • One-to-one counseling
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic interventions
  • Aftercare planning

If you need help addressing any aspect of alcohol abuse, call 800-994-2184.

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Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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Holistic Therapy

Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
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Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
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Drug & Alcohol Detox

A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.
Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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