Recognizing and Treating Alcohol Problems

<b>Recognizing and Treating Alcohol Problems</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – While some 18 million Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence, only one in eight receives treatment. Poor diagnosis may play a role in people being undertreated, but there are a growing number of tools to help people assess and understand whether they have alcohol problems.

One of the latest tools is a new government Web site called “Rethinking Drinking,” which, through a 20-question assessment, is designed to determine whether your drinking patterns are safe, risky or harmful.

Launched and supported by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) division, the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) web site features a self-assessment test that is completely confidential and anonymous.

Medications for Alcohol Dependence

The Food & Drug Administration has approved medications for the treatment of alcohol dependence which offer treatment options in addition to traditional 12-step and counseling programs. Rethinking Drinking provides key facts about medications for alcohol dependence:

* Newer medications can make it easier to quit drinking.

* Newer medications don’t make you sick if you do drink.

* None of these medications is addictive.

* Medications can be combined with support groups or alcohol counseling.

Traditionally, approaches to overcome alcoholism have not included medications. Government statistics show that 75 percent of people receiving traditional approaches for alcohol dependence relapse to heavy drinking within the first year of beginning treatment.

New Guidelines Include Medications

Last year, the HHS issued best-practice guidelines for the treatment of alcohol dependence. These guidelines include for the first time the recommendation to consider the two most recent FDA-approved medications for alcohol dependence, naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension and acamprosate calcium.

One of the newly added medications in the HHS guidelines is an extended-release injection taken once a month. Pill medications have been successful for some patients. However, in cases where a patient may be challenged to reliably take a daily pill, an extended-release injection that is given once a month can be a helpful treatment option.

To find a physician in your area, go to www.alcoholanswers.org/local. For online self assessment, go to www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov.

New Guidelines Include Medications For Treatment of Alcohol Dependence

<b>New Guidelines Include Medications For Treatment of Alcohol Dependence</b>“></td>
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<p>(<a href=NewsUSA) – Well-established ways to overcome alcoholism include counseling, 12-step recovery programs and addiction treatment centers. But government statistics show that 75 percent of people receiving conventional treatment for alcohol dependence relapse to heavy drinking within the first year of beginning treatment.

A division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) has recently issued best-practice guidelines for the treatment of alcohol dependence. The guidelines, entitled “Incorporating Alcohol Pharmacotherapies Into Medical Practice,” include for the first time the two most recent FDA-approved medications for alcohol dependence, naltrexone for extended-release injectable suspension and acamprosate calcium.

FDA-Approved Medications

The FDA has approved medications for the treatment of alcohol dependence that offer treatment options in addition to traditional 12-step and counseling programs. Medications can act by blocking or interacting with certain receptors or biochemical effects in the brain of a person with alcohol dependence.

Medications are used along with counseling to help a person stop drinking. One of the newly added medications in the HHS guidelines is an extended-release injection taken once a month.

When medications are part of the treatment program along with counseling, a physician must consider whether the patient can reliably adhere to a daily pill regimen. A recent study analyzed the magnitude of challenges faced when prescribing oral pharmacotherapy for alcohol dependence. Over a six-month period, more than 85 percent of patients were non-persistent with oral therapy. Oral therapy has been successful for some patients. However, in many cases in which adherence is a challenge, an extended-release injection that is given once a month can be a helpful treatment option.

“We now know that alcohol dependence is a chronic disease with a potentially life-threatening course,” said Harold C. Urschel III, M.D., chief of medical strategy, EnterHealth LLC. “These new guidelines increase awareness and information about the new medications available for alcohol dependence so that patients and their doctors can consider all the available tools for each individual case.”

As with other complex chronic diseases, like depression, asthma or diabetes, patients, along with their physicians and family members, work together to determine the best treatment option for each person with alcohol dependence.

A copy of the HHS guidelines can be found at www.alcoholanswers.org/TIP49.pdf.

To find a physician in your area, please visit www.alcoholanswers.org/local/.