General practitioners' treatment for alcoholism is expected because of new drugs that are said to reduce alcohol addiction. But while new drugs promise to help some drinkers stay out of the bottle, alcoholics are only trading one substance for another unless they add some form of therapeutic rehabilitation alcohol to the mix.
According to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a growing number of 337,000 general practitioners are being recruited and trained to use the new drugs.
What they haven't learned – and may not have time for – is the in-depth care that traditional alcohol rehabilitation programs offer to seek permanent addiction and cure. Newer drugs such as naltrexone, topiramate, and others are not curative drugs: they must be taken continuously to prevent uncontrolled alcohol needs.
Naltrexone was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a monthly injection dose for alcoholism nearly a year ago. Called Vivitrol, this drug has been in pill form for many years and is now used as a supplement to detoxify alcohol and drugs.
Drug detox settings are only used for a short period of time – enough to help the addict through the complex withdrawal process – after which the patient is expected to make a full recovery as part of an alcohol rehabilitation program.
The new monthly naltrexone composition can only be started after four days of abstinence and is said to cause fewer nausea-like symptoms than when taken daily in pill form.
Longer monthly injections make it easier to stick to the drug – although continuous medication to satisfy an alcohol appetite is no substitute for true alcohol rehabilitation that allows a person to quit their addiction.