HAMS: Harm Reduction for Alcohol

Medications for Abstinence or Moderate Drinking



Antabuse is a medication which will make you very ill if you drink after taking it. Antabuse is used for alcohol abstinence. Antabuse can be used for either a short-term or a long-term alcohol abstinence goal. The generic name for Antabuse is disulfiram.
What Is Antabuse?


Campral is a medication which helps to reduce cravings for alcohol. Campral has proven effective in helping people to abstain from alcohol. It is uncertain if Campral is useful for people who are attempting a moderate drinking goal. The generic name for Campral is acamprosate.
What Is Campral?


Naltrexone is a medication which can help you to reduce your alcohol intake or quit. Naltrexone works by reducing the reward of alcohol which results in the extinction of the conditioned response to alcohol. Naltrexone is also sold under the brand name Revia or Vivitrol.
What Is Naltrexone?


Topamax was originally created to treat epilepsy but it has also proven effective in helping people to reduce their drinking or abstain from alcohol. The generic name for Topamax is topiramate.
What Is Topamax?


OTC supplements which have proven effective in clinical trials in helping people to moderate their drinking or abstain from alcohol are kudzu and glutamine. For more info please see:
Kudzu Root Reduces Alcohol Intake
Glutamine Reduces Alcohol Consumption and Cravings


None of these drugs or supplements is a magic bullet for a drinking problem. All of them have been shown to lead to small but significant improvements in motivated populations. However, because there are individual differences between different people, not every drug can help every individual. The most effective of all the drugs mentioned appears to be naltrexone used according to the Sinclair Method. In Finland the Sinclair Method has become the standard way to prescribe naltrexone. Unfortunately, most doctors in the United States have not heard of the Sinclair Method and continue to prescribe naltrexone in a manner which is ineffective.


Anton RF et al. (2006). Combined pharmacotherapies and behavioral interventions for alcohol dependence: the COMBINE study: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. May 3;295(17):2003-17.
PubMed Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16670409
Full Text: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?doi=10.1001/jama.295.17.2003

Garbutt JC (2009). The state of pharmacotherapy for the treatment of alcohol dependence. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. Jan;36(1):S15-23.
PubMed Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19062347

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