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There are three drugs approved to treat alcoholism. All are meant to work only after the patient has become alcohol-free.
-- Antabuse, approved in 1948, works by causing nausea and other unpleasant symptoms when the patient consumes alcohol. However, those who want to drink simply stop taking the drug or choose to ignore the symptoms, limiting its effectiveness.
-- Naltrexone (ReVia) is meant to help patients in recovery stay away from alcohol by blocking the "high" from alcohol consumption. Its effects are limited and it is only approved for use in conjunction with supportive therapy.
-- Campral, approved in 2004, may help reduce cravings.
Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. Depression and anxiety are related emotional conditions that are very common among alcoholics. Antidepressant and antianxiety drugs may help reduce these disorders, which can contribute to cravings.