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Do Alcohol Inpatient Treatment Programs Use Medication-Based Therapies?

After months or years of heavy drinking, the body comes to “need” alcohol to function normally much like it requires food and water. Under these conditions, stopping alcohol use can cause serious physical and psychological problems to develop. When this is the case, there’s a real need for the type of intensive care provided by alcohol inpatient treatment programs.

Alcohol inpatient treatment programs make use of medication-based therapies when alcohol’s damaging effects leave the brain incapable of managing the body’s functions in the absence of alcohol. Understanding how medication-based therapies work can go a long way towards helping you decide if this form of treatment is right for you.

Alcohol Inpatient Treatment Components

Alcohol inpatient treatment programs work towards two overall objectives: detoxification and rehabilitation, according to the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration. Due to the extensive damage done to the brain and body, detoxification often includes some form of medication-based therapy. Once a person is stabilized, steps towards rehabilitation, in terms of employment, repairing relationships and housing (if necessary), can begin.

These programs provide round-the-clock care and supervision as patients often require both medical and psychological treatment during the course of their stay. If you’ve reached a point where chronic medical problems or extreme depression or anxiety are driving you to drink even more, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-430-1407Who Answers? to speak with one of our addiction specialists.

How Medication-Based Therapies Work

Alcohol Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment can help end your alcohol dependency for good!

The brain relies on a delicate balance of neurotransmitter chemicals to function normally. Neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, glutamate and GABA play central roles in regulating a range bodily functions, including:

  • Emotional state
  • Digestion
  • Energy metabolism
  • Breathing
  • Circulation
  • Body temperature

Once brain chemical imbalances reach a certain point, drinkers face a losing battle when trying to reduce their alcohol intake. Medication-based therapies work by restoring a natural brain chemical balance and/or reducing a person’s desire to drink.

Types of Medications Used

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, medications commonly used in alcohol inpatient treatment include:

  • Disulfiram
  • Naltrexone
  • Acamprosate

Disulfiram acts as preventative agent, causing an unpleasant reaction whenever a person consumes alcohol. In effect, disulfiram interferes with alcohol metabolism, resulting in a buildup of acetaldehyde when ingested. Physical reactions experienced include hot flashes, nausea and heart palpitations.

Naltrexone’s effects work to reduce a person’s desire to drink by stabilizing dopamine and GABA neurotransmitter activities in the brain. Acamprosate also helps reduce your desire to drink, only this medication acts on the brain’s glutamate and GABA chemical activities.

As each person’s body responds to the effects of alcohol in different ways, your physician ultimately determines which type of medication therapy will best address your treatment needs.

Setting Realistic Goals as an Alcohol Rehab Inpatient


Alcohol inpatient treatment programs specialize in treating the very worst cases of alcoholism and its effects. When needed, these programs combine medication therapies with addiction-based interventions to give a person the best chance at a successful recovery. For people who most need medication treatment, it’s all but impossible to abstain from drinking without some form of medical treatment in place.

If you’re considering alcohol inpatient treatment and have further questions, or need help determining whether your health insurance will cover treatment costs, please feel free to call our toll-free helpline at 800-430-1407Who Answers?.

Where do calls go?

Calls to numbers on a specific treatment center listing will be routed to that treatment center. Calls to any general helpline will be answered or returned by one of the treatment providers listed, each of which is a paid advertiser: Rehab Media Group, Recovery Helpline, Alli Addiction Services.

By calling the helpline you agree to the terms of use. We do not receive any commission or fee that is dependent upon which treatment provider a caller chooses. There is no obligation to enter treatment.

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