Anti-Craving Medications


 

I tried everything,
AA, a 28-day program…
I was ready to give up.
Then I found ARCA.

-ARCA Client

 

 

ARCA is licensed by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

How does this work?

Medication Overview

  • Alcohol compromises the brain’s pleasure system, producing the overwhelming cravings of dependence. This chemical imbalance can be corrected with medication.
  • FDA-approved medication such as Naltrexone, Vivitrol(r) and Ondansetron help to control cravings. Campral(r) is an effective medication to maintain sobriety.
  • These modern, safe and effective treatments are non-mood altering, non-addictive and have few side effects. Along with counseling, most clients take anti-craving medications for six months to one year.
  • Freed from physical discomforts, you can focus on relapse-prevention counseling and long-term recovery. Best of all, you can undertake this treatment on an outpatient basis.
  • The anti-craving medications can be safely taken along with most medications. Opiate narcotics are the only medications that cannot be taken with Naltrexone.
  • The Assisted Recovery program is based on the Pennsylvania Model of Recovery developed by Dr. Joseph Volpicelli at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

“When an alcoholic is taking Naltrexone, if he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t feel anything,” says Dr. Volpicelli.

“But if he does drink, it tastes different in a way he can’t describe; it just doesn’t hit the spot anymore.

He will start sipping the drink and will do something he has never done before: leave the drink on the bar half-empty.”

Breaking the vicious cycle of alcohol dependence by stopping the cravings.

An essential component of our evidence based Pennsylvania Model of Recovery is the utilization of safe, approved and effective medications that have been shown to effectively improve treatment results.

Medications utilized by Assisted Recovery are not “cures” in themselves but they are an essential component of the recovery process.

Currently the anti-alcohol medications recommended by Assisted Recovery include: Naltrexone,(ReVia ®), Vivitrol ®, Campral®, Ondansetron (Zofran ®) and Topamax ®. These medications are available only by a prescription from a licensed physician.

“All I can tell you is, the medications make a huge difference. In fact, I rarely even think about drinking.” -ARCA Client

One of the primary investigators of medication assisted treatment (MAT) for alcohol dependence is Joseph Volpicelli. MD. PhD. Dr. Volpicelli is a recognized pioneer in developing MAT. He is the Director of the Volpicelli Center for Addiction Medicine near Philadelphia.

Assisted Recovery Centers of America in Phoenix, AZ, was the first non-academic agency to embrace the work of Dr. Volpicelli and the Pennsylvania Model of Recovery.

He explains that one of the reasons humans like to drink is for the endorphin “high” that alcohol causes. “When you drink, your brain releases these morphine-like compounds called endorphin's,” he says. “These… create the need to have another drink and cause the pleasurable effects of drinking.” The endorphin's then stimulate the release of dopamine, which intensifies the pleasure associated with drinking alcohol.

“Management of craving is a new approach to the treatment of addiction, and Naltrexone is the best example we have of an anti-craving medication.” – Dr. Alex Stalcup MD

Opiate antagonists, such as Naltrexone, bind to the endorphin receptors in the brain — the same parts that are stimulated by endorphin's — but do not activate them, Dr. Volpicelli explains. As a result, cravings are reduced, and if the alcohol dependent person drinks, the sense of “high” is greatly reduced or eliminated.

“When an individual is taking Naltrexone, if he doesn’t drink, he doesn’t feel anything” says Dr. Volpicelli. “But if he does drink, it tastes different in a way he can’t describe; it just doesn’t hit the spot anymore. He will start sipping the drink and will do something he has never done before: leave the drink on the bar half-empty.”

Notably, the idea of treating the symptoms of alcoholism goes against the grain of the Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship. For the more then two million AA members worldwide, there is no such thing as a cure, but an ongoing, lifetime effort to stay sober and to help other alcoholics get sober. In general, the use of Naltrexone or other pharmacotherapy treatments is frowned upon in the 12-step AA ethos, which views alcohol dependence as a spiritual disease requiring the strength for sobriety to come from a “higher power”.

Conquering the Craving:

Pharmacotherapies Treat Alcohol Addiction

by Leah Shafer
Rx.com Magazine, 2000
Click here for the full article

Overcoming the enormous hurdle of alcohol addiction usually means a period of white-knuckled craving during which the goal is simple, though not easy: to make it moment-to-moment without a drink. Of the one million Americans treated each year for alcoholism, almost 50 percent start drinking again in the first few months of sobriety. But naltrexone, among a class of medications called opiate antagonists, appears to offer hope to alcoholics and has garnered the attention of the medical community. When compared with a placebo in clinical trials, naltrexone consistently reduced the rate of relapse to heavy drinking as well as the frequency of drinking. Opiate antagonists have been used for more than 25 years to help people kick addictions to drugs such as heroin and morphine. Researchers express excitement about the potential of these medications to treat alcohol addiction as well.

 

Contact Assisted Recovery today at
(602) 264-7897