Treatment for alcohol abuse includes behavioral treatments such as mutual support groups and individual therapy, as well as pharmaceutical treatments. Often these are used in combination.

Currently, there are three FDA-approved drugs for the treatment of alcohol use disorders:

  • Disulfiram (sold under the trade name Antabuse)
  • Naltrexone (sold as an oral medication under the name Revia and as an injectible under the names Vivitrol and Naltrel)
  • Acamprosate (sold under the trade name Campral).

In addition, some benzodiazepines (Valium and Xanex) have been approved to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Other drugs are not FDA-approved to treat alcohol abuse, but have, in a research setting, shown promise in reducing drinking. Learn more about current research in medications development.

NIAAA’s Medications Development Program supports the development of medications for alcoholism. The goal of this program is to improve the care and treatment of those affected by developing safe and effective medications that are accepted by clinicians and patients.

The Medications Development Program includes funding to academic sites and small businesses to develop medications to treat alcoholism. NIAAA’s Clinical Investigations Group (NCIG) helps to encourage the pharmaceutical industry develop drugs to treat alcoholism and speed the process for getting these medications on the market.

NIAAA’s Division of Treatment and Recovery Research also has the following materials and publications, which may be of interest to clinicians:

You can also learn about the COMBINE study, the largest pharmacotherapy trial conducted for alcoholism in the United States, here:

You can learn about the Quetiapine Study, the first NCIG Phase II pharmacotherapy trial, here:

You can learn about the Levetiracetam Study, the second NCIG Phase II pharmacotherapy trial and the first multi-site trial in very heavy drinking alcohol dependent patients, here: