Alcohol use disorder affects over 15 million adults and over 600,000 adolescents in the United States, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The Denver Post reported recently that Colorado is the top state for alcohol consumption in the US as well. People who abuse alcohol have a range of treatments available to them to help them stop drinking and maintain their sobriety.
Current Treatments for Alcoholism in Colorado
Behavioral treatments—These treatments use counseling to change drinking behavior and work through previous and current traumas that may be contributing to alcohol use and abuse.
Medications—Three medications are currently in use to help people stop drinking. Antabuse does not allow alcohol to be absorbed into the body, so people will feel sick if they drink even a little bit of alcohol while taking it. Naltrexone reduces both cravings for alcohol and the high drinkers feel by blocking endorphin receptors in the brain. Campral helps reduce the symptoms alcoholics feel such as insomnia, anxiety, and mood swings when they do not drink for long periods of time.
Support Groups—12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous give emotional and practical support for those who want to stop drinking and maintain sobriety.
New Treatments Could Help Colorado Alcoholics
New treatment options may be beneficial for people struggling to control their alcohol abuse. Some treatments will always work better for some than others, so having more treatment options can help increase the odds of success in overcoming alcohol addiction.
One new treatment being tested is the use of Topamax, a seizure drug, to treat alcoholism. Topamax works similarly to Campral to help fight symptoms alcoholics experience when not drinking that could lead them to relapse. An AMA study showed that Topamax was better than a placebo in reducing the number of heavy drinking days for those that used it over a 14-week period.
Another new treatment aims to change brain activity in alcoholics by changing the function of proteins called the extracellular matrix. These proteins are supported by an enzyme called MMP-9, which could be linked to the motivation to drink alcohol.
In studies with mice, those missing this enzyme were less motivated to seek out alcohol when it was not readily available (though they did still consume alcohol when it was readily available).
Removing the enzyme from those with alcohol abuse problems may help them to stay sober by reducing their motivation to drink. Scientists already knew that the gene that causes higher production of the MMP-9 enzyme in humans is correlated with stronger motivation to drink alcohol, and that many alcoholics with a T allele in the MMP-9 gene would continue to drink even when faced with negative consequences from the drinking.
Researchers are working toward finding out whether removing the MMP-9 enzyme can be an effective treatment for alcoholics to help them overcome their strong compulsion to drink so that sobriety will be easier to maintain.
While these new treatment options are not yet ready to go mainstream, the treatment options that already exist can help you or a loved one battling addiction to be successful. Recovery Village at Palmer Lake offers programs for alcohol addiction for those in Colorado. Learn about admissions and get more information on what we offer.