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Disulfiram, Acamprosate, And Other Forms Of Alcohol MAT

Disulfiram and acamprosate are forms of Alcohol Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) options. Read on to learn about alcohol MAT.

The Impact of Alcohol Use Disorder

A high percentage of adults and young people in the United States consume alcohol at least once in their lifetime. Due to consistent substance intake, nearly 16 million adolescents and adults develop dependence and alcohol use disorder. The use of disulfiram and acamprosate are significantly common forms of alcohol medication-assisted treatment (MAT) options. Keep reading to learn more about these medications as forms of alcohol MAT.

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

Alcohol Use Disorder involves challenges in controlling the intake of alcohol.1 Individuals experiencing the condition continue intake, even when it causes health problems. Such persons may also continue the intake of alcohol despite other adverse social and occupational consequences.

AUD may also involve individuals drinking more alcohol for a certain feeling or experiencing withdrawal symptoms after discontinued intake.

A Closer Look at AUD

Specific health experts refer to AUD as a brain disorder. Depending on the factors around the disorder, it could be mild, moderate, or severe in terms of symptoms. Due to the risks surrounding the intake of alcohol, health experts also recommend moderation. That signifies no more than two drinks a day for men, while it signifies one drink for women. Note that one drink is 1.5 ounces of liquor, 5 ounces of wine, and 12 ounces of beer.

Drinking above the “moderate” amount may lead to dependence, which is one of the major causes of AUD.2 According to the DSM IV criteria, individuals who have alcohol dependence, may experience tolerance, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, and increased cravings. Certain factors can increase the risks of AUD in individuals. Examples of these include early drinking, genetics, and mental health conditions.

Common Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

Reputable healthcare professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) to assess the presence of AUD. Here are the significant symptoms to note:


  • Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Continuing to drink alcohol even though you know it’s causing physical, social, or interpersonal problems
  • Giving up or reducing social and work activities and hobbies
  • Withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating, and shaking — when you don’t drink, or drinking to avoid these symptoms
  • Wanting to cut down on how much you drink or making unsuccessful attempts to do so
  • Spending a lot of time drinking, getting alcohol, or recovering from alcohol use
  • Using alcohol in situations where it’s not safe, such as when driving or swimming
  • Developing a tolerance to alcohol, so you need more to feel its effect, or you have a reduced impact from the same amount.
  • Feeling an intense craving or urge to drink alcohol.
  • Failing to fulfill significant obligations at work, school, or home due to repeated alcohol use

MAT Medications for Alcohol

Effective MAT for alcohol use disorder is evident with various FDA-approved medications. Some of these drugs include:


This drug helps reduce alcohol cravings and lessens withdrawal symptoms of alcohol. Acamprosate functions by decreasing the brain’s alcohol dependency by interacting with other brain neurotransmitters. The medication modulates and normalizes brain activity.


Intake of disulfiram causes hang-over-like effects and an unpleasant feeling, but it’s an effective MAT for alcohol use disorder. Individuals craving alcohol will find disulfiram an effective medication for alcohol abuse due to the hang-over effects. Some unwanted hang-over-like effects include nausea, vomiting, facial flushing, and chest pain.


Although the first use of naltrexone was in opioid treatment, it appears to be a suitable alcohol abuse medication. People who take alcohol don’t enjoy the “reward” feeling with naltrexone. However, it’s imperative to note that individuals should go through detoxification before beginning treatment with alcohol addiction medication.

Other Possible Forms of Alcohol MAT

One of the other possible forms of alcohol MAT is benzodiazepines. These MAT drugs for alcohol are important in acute detoxification since they work on the same brain receptors as alcohol. Experts can administer benzodiazepines at the early stages of alcohol withdrawal, taper them down, and discontinue them later.

Medication-Assisted Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

MAT for alcohol use disorder involves implementing the use of prescribed drugs alongside behavioral therapies for AUD. According to SAMHSA, MAT is effective and results in suitable outcomes for those experiencing substance use disorder due to alcohol. In reputable MAT treatment for alcohol centers, MAT for alcohol addresses individual needs and provides tailored care.

The medications for AUD help reduce drinking and prevent relapse. Behavioral therapies are key since MAT for alcohol abuse is a “whole-patient” approach to addiction recovery. It helps individuals address the root of their challenges that may lead to relapse. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the benefits and drawbacks of MAT for alcohol:

The Benefits of Alcohol MAT

Alcohol MAT focuses on full recovery as its goal. According to SAMHSA, the MAT for alcohol helps:3

  • Increase retention in treatment
  • Improve patient survival
  • Increase chances of gaining employment
  • Decreases illicit intake of opioids

The Drawbacks of Alcohol MAT

During medication-assisted treatment for alcohol, the individual must discontinue all habit-forming substances. Even MAT medications for alcohol can be habit-forming. For instance, drugs like methadone (for opioid use disorder) have a high risk of abuse. If administered wrongly, it can also result in an overdose.

Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder at San Diego Detox

San Diego Detox provides various suitable treatment options for AUD. Here are some of the significant ones to note:

Alcohol MAT Program

AUD may seem difficult to overcome, but individuals will be a step ahead in recovery with the alcohol MAT treatment program. Medication-assisted treatment for alcohol has the goal of helping others reach full recovery and improve everyday living. During MAT for alcohol abuse, the health professional offers acamprosate, disulfiram, and naltrexone tablets.


Alongside MAT for alcohol, therapy techniques like Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) effectively treat AUD. It focuses on identifying negative patterns of thoughts and behaviors and replacing them with positive ones. A CBT session is usually a conversation between a licensed psychologist and the individual experiencing AUD. Compared to other MAT treatment services for alcohol, CBT focuses on constructive action and less on the diagnosis.

Finding Help

If you or your loved one is experiencing alcohol use disorder symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out. San Diego Detox provides personalized help and support to individuals experiencing AUD. Contact us today.