Limitations of Current AUD Therapies
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Limitations of Current AUD Therapies

Limitations of Current AUD Therapies


Today the most common treatments for AUD are directed at achieving abstinence and typical treatments include psychological and social interventions. Most therapies actually require abstinence prior to initiating therapy. Abstinence requires dramatic lifestyle changes often with serious work and social consequences. Frequently, patients cannot attend family and social events in order to ensure compliance with abstinence, and patients often must suffer from the stigma of having been labelled an alcoholic. Significant side effects of current pharmacologic therapies include mental side effects such as psychiatric disorders and depressive symptoms and physical side effect such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, abdominal pain, arthritis and joint fitness. In fact, according to peer reviewed studies referenced in the 2014 book The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, by Dr. Lance Dodes, the former Director of the substance abuse treatment unit of Harvard’s McLean Hospital, 90% or more of patients that use current therapy solutions, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, do not achieve long-term abstinence.

There are four drugs approved by the FDA and marketed in the United States for the treatment of alcohol addiction, Antabuse® (disulfram), Vivitrol® (naltrexone), Revia® (naltrexone) and Campral® (acomprosate). One drug, Selincro® (nalmefene) is marketed outside of the United States

Antabuse® was approved for the treatment of alcohol dependence more than 50 years ago, making it the oldest such drug on the market. It works by interfering with the body’s ability to process alcohol. Its method of action and purpose is to cause patients that drink alcohol while taking Antabuse® to experience numerous and extremely unpleasant adverse effects, including, among others, flushing, nausea, and palpitations, with the goal that patients will continue the medication but refrain from drinking in order to avoid these effects.

Naltrexone, which can be taken as a once-daily pill (Revia®) or in an approved once-monthly injectable form (Vivitrole) that requires a doctor to administer is often associated with gastrointestinal complaints and has been reported to cause liver damage when given at certain high doses. As a result, it carries an FDA boxed warning, a special emphasized warning, for this side effect.


Campral®, taken by mouth three times daily, acts on chemical messenger systems in the brain.


Selincro® has not been approved for sale in the United States.