There are now a different number of medications that are available to help people reduce or stop their drinking. Contact Timewise Medical for an appointment at (651) 333 9133, and we can help you determine the right treatment for your needs.
GABA DRUGS: Baclofen / Neurontin / Topamax / Campral
Drugs that affect the GABA system in the brain can be very effective for the treatment of alcoholism. One of the receptors that alcohol stimulates is the GABA-A receptor. Stimulation of the GABA-A receptor is responsible for the calming and anti-anxiety effects of alcohol. Sedative medications such as Valium also stimulate the GABA-A receptor. In fact, alcohol can be thought of as liquid Valium, and Valium can be thought of as freeze dried alcohol.
Baclofen is an effective GABA medication that Dr. Locketz may prescribe for alcohol addiction. Many patients who start baclofen describe a loss of cravings, as well as an indifference to alcohol. For some patients who want to comfortably moderate their drinking. They control the alcohol, the alcohol does not control them.
Baclofen is actually a muscle relaxant that has been around for a long time. It works for the treatment of alcoholism in two ways. First, it treats anxiety by acting on the GABA-B receptor. Second, baclofen attenuates the brain neurotransmitter dopamine, which is responsible for the euphoric and rewarding effects of alcohol. GABA-B receptors and dopamine receptors in the reward pathway of the brain are intertwined. This gives baclofen a very unique mechanism of action, and is the reason such dramatic results can be seen when treating patients who identify as alcoholics or heavy drinkers.
Neurontin is a seizure medication that is also used for chronic pain, anxiety disorders, and addiction to alcohol. Neurontin can be thought of as working at the GABA-A receptor. Like all GABA drugs, Neurontin essentially works to put alcohol addiction into remission by treating anxiety and emotional states of tension and stress. Neurontin is prescribed as a medication to be taken three times daily, and it is also taken as an as needed medication for cravings. Neurontin can also be taken as a prophylactic dose for “high risk” situations, such as work or social functions where many people will be drinking. If being able to drink socially is the goal for treatment, some patients are able to moderate their drinking with the help of Neurontin.
Topamax is a seizure medication that is also used for weight loss, migraine headaches, and addiction to alcohol. It works at the GABA-A receptor, so it works for alcohol addiction by treating anxiety and emotional states of tension and stress. Topamax also works at glutamate receptors, which are increased in people that are alcoholic or heavy drinkers. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is excitatory, so an excess of glutamate contributes to feelings of anxiety and irritability. Topamax can be thought of as blocking the effects of glutamate. Topamax is taken as a nightly or twice daily dose, and a steady blood level of the medication is achieved within a few days.
Campral was specifically developed and FDA approved for the treatment of alcoholism. It acts at GABA-A and glutamate receptors. Campral may be the least effective of all of the GABA drugs for this purpose.