Alcohol Dependence

When alcohol is consumed, the brain releases endorphins, which are endogenous opioids that are also released in response to exercise, food, sex, and other pleasurable activities. Naltrexone reduces both the rewarding effects of alcohol and the craving for it. It is an opioid antagonist. Vivitrol is the injectable, long-acting form of Naltrexone that is given every 4 weeks.

People abusing alcohol no longer receive a “reward” for drinking once they are on Naltrexone and are therefore less likely to continue consumption. Naltrexone is most effective when taken in combination with other forms of treatment, including other medications, therapy, counseling, and 12-step programs.

*The CAGE questionnaire can be a useful tool to assess a person's potential problem with alcohol abuse.

Most people recovering from alcohol dependence will relapse at least once before they finally achieve sobriety. However, it’s critical to note that addiction experts view relapse as a temporary obstacle, not a permanent problem that prevents recovery. Also, the longer people stay sober, the less chance they have of ever relapsing. The majority of people who remain abstinent for five years will maintain their sobriety for life.

Getting a loved one to agree to accept help, and finding support services for all family members are the first steps toward healing for the addicted person and the entire family.

Click here for more information and resources on how alcohol abuse affects families: