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Treatment for alcoholism

Throughout Australia, specialist alcohol services are available. Some individuals will only need or want to learn to reduce or control their drinking while others will need to abstain from alcohol use. Alcohol services offer a wide range of interventions and treatments including brief interventions, motivational interviews, counselling, detoxification services and self-help groups. Detoxification (alcohol withdrawal) can be provided in a number of settings including hospital wards, alcohol treatment units and residential services.

A variety of drugs can be used to treat alcoholism. Benzodiazepines (Valium or similar drugs) are sometimes used during the first days after drinking stops to help a patient safely withdraw from alcohol. These drugs are not used beyond the first few days, however, because they may be very addictive.

Other drugs such as naltrexone can reduce the craving for alcohol and help prevent a person from returning, or relapsing, to heavy drinking.

Just as there is no one test for screening or diagnosing alcoholism, there is not one single drug that effectively treats alcoholism. In other words, no single drug is available that works in every case because body chemistries are slightly different and reasons for drinking are also different. Developing new and more effective drugs to treat alcoholism is a high priority for researchers.

Last Review Date: March 6, 2017