Pills to help you stop drinking

Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram are all FDA approved medications to help you stop drinking. More on medications for alcohol use disorder here.

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If you ask yourself, “Why can’t I stop drinking?” and are ready to quit alcohol, there is good news. Medications can help you reduce drinking, avoid relapse, or abstain from alcohol … even if you’ve already tried 12 step meetings or psychotherapy.

FDA approved medications such as acamprosate, disulfiram and naltrexone can both reduce your desire to drink and promote abstinence. Here, we review how well these medications work and evaluate whether or not more is needed from you.  Can you really stop drinking just by taking pills? We explore here.

Medications to stop drinking

Alcohol use disorder is a medical term for problem drinking. Check out the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test on page 17 of the WHO guidelines for alcohol screening to learn more about how doctors diagnose problem drinking. If you think that you have a drinking problem (or have been diagnosed with one) and want to cut back or stop drinking totally, there are medications which can help you.

The medication you use will depend on your doctor’s judgment and your personal preferences and goals. Be prepared to try the medicine for at least 3 months, although your doctor may recommend that you stay on the medication for a year or longer if the treatment is working. Why so long? Well, because relapse to heavy drinking is very common within the first year of sobriety. But as each medicine has a different mechanism of action and your response may be better to one type of medication than another, be flexible and work with your doctor to achieve your goals. The main pills used to help you stop drinking include:

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Acamprosate – Acamprosate acts on the GABA and glutamate neurotransmitter systems and is believed to reduce insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, and unpleasant mood which is usually characteristic of intermediate term abstinence from alcohol. Although the effectiveness of Acamprosate is still not proven, Acamprosate has been helpful to people who have determined a goal of abstinence.

Disulfiram – Commonly known as Antabuse, this medication inhibits the intermediate metabolism of alcohol. The idea is that taking Antabuse will motivate you to stay away from drinking in order to prevent the symptoms that drinking will cause. In other words, if you take a Disulfiram tablet and THEN drink, you will get sick. The result is a buildup of acetaldehyde and common reactions include flushing, sweating, nausea, and increased heart rate.

Naltrexone – Naltrexone works by blocking opioid receptors, which results in reduced alcohol craving and reduced reward in response to drinking. Naltrexone particularly helps reduce relapses and is often used for people who experience occasional slips in the first months of sobriety. Naltrexone is less effective in maintaining abstinence.

Can pills help you stop drinking?

Given the evidence from clinical trials, and anecdotal experience…yes, medications such naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram as can help you stop drinking. In fact, people who do not respond to psychosocial approaches alone are particularly strong and responsive candidates for medication treatment. But you must have a willingness to be and stay sober in order to stay off the booze. And furthermore, no single approach is universally successful or appealing to everyone. So, experts recommend that you COMBINE alcohol dependence medications with the full range of effective treatments to increase your chances of staying sober. These include:

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In sum, no matter which alcohol dependence medication you use, if you have a goal of abstinence, or if you can abstain from drinking even for a few days prior to starting the medication, you are more likely to have better outcomes. And you cannot rely on medications alone. You will need to identify other treatment options that can work for you in the long run, if you want to stay sober.

Got questions or comments? Leave them in the comments section. We’d love to hear from you.

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Reference sources: Medications To Treat Alcoholism
HHS and NIAAA Clinician’s Guide to Helping Patients Who Drink Too Much
About the author
Lee Weber is a published author, medical writer, and woman in long-term recovery from addiction. Her latest book, The Definitive Guide to Addiction Interventions is set to reach university bookstores in early 2019.


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  1. Hi I would love to get something that can help my grandmother and my mother to stop drinking because they are abusive

  2. Hi team,
    My brother is got habituated to alcohol and drinks everyday.he says if he doesn’t drink, he won’t get sleep and he gets irritated and short temper.he is 34 years old.
    He smokes as well..he has started this havit some four years back post his marriage in which he is not happy. he has got into depression due to the fact that his married life is disturbed.
    He was very attached to our dad ,but we lost him some ten years back..bcos of that also, he feels lonely and says he doesn’t have anyone.
    Hence, I would need your help and guidance cos I can’t see my brother dying everyday in front of my eyes like this.
    Pls help.

  3. My husband is vry much addicted in alchoholic please suggest the best pills that i can give him without letting him known.. Please

    1. Hi Imnalong. Call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your mother’s individual needs.

    1. Hi Ranbir. You need to stage an intervention for your son, so he can see that he has a problem. Also, call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program.

    1. Hi Deepa. I suggest that you stage an intervention with a help from a professional interventionist. Also, call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program.

  4. Good Eve doctor, my husband is drinking since so many years but recently increased he is diabetic also after drinking he tells bad words and fight with people. Not willing to go to doctor. Plz prescribe some medicines for him

    1. Hi Suman. We are not doctor, and we cannot prescribe medications. I suggest that you talk with your husband to seek help. Moreover, you may call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your husband’s individual needs.

  5. My husband to be drinks so much that when he is drunk he do wht others tell to do .nd then he act strange .like when he is with his kids they bougth beer to get him drunk .when he is on leave days from work its 4 days he believe he must drink alcohol .plse i beg u im very responsable person .is the maybe a tablet i can use to get him to stop drinking .i begg u help me .

  6. I am able to go 6mo 1 mo 1 week without drinking but cannot seem to quit even though I feel so much better and more productive when I am sober

    1. Hi Judi. Call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your individual needs.

  7. hi I’m currently suffering with anxiety and am taking setraline 100mg per day and proponal 80mg 2x per day however I have been dealing with my 15 years old daughters mental health problem for 9 years and only now as she recently been sectioned to finally get the help she needs the only problem I have become dependant on drink at night time as I cannot sleep without it I want to stop but do not want to seek medical help. is there something I can do myself to quit I am a strong minded person who can deal with it myself but need directing in the right direction kind regards davinia

  8. acamprosate (Campral®) really worked for me. They said it takes a couple months to start working but it started helping me in less than 2 weeks. I was a full-blown alcoholic that had a year and a half in before I relapsed. Then I would relapse again and again until I went in the hospital the 28th of December 2008 and forced myself to stay until after New Years for over a week so t hey wouldn’t put me down as “AMA” leaving Against Medical Advice. They knew what they were doing because it worked. I have since been sober which will be 10 years December 28, 2017 thanks to Danbury Hospital and Campral. Campral really does help take away the urge to drink so you have a fighting chance. You don’t have to worry about weaning off Campral like you do with librium or Ativan so it is a good thing to take instead of a prolonged treatment with Librium or Ativan. “Move a Muscle, Change a Thought” is a slogan that really helped me. Takes your mind off how crappy you feel. I really hope this helps even just one person and they pass it on. Good Luck and God Bless anyone trying to quit. You can do it but you have to learn to let the moment pass when you get the urge to drink. Rat yourself out to someone before you take that drink. If you really want to QUIT, you will by listening to the right people.

  9. Hello ,my brother having the habit of drinking alcohol he is daily n over drinker ….I request u pls help me to get a way to atop this habit

  10. I have a problem with alcohol I am looking for the best tables to stop me from taking alcohol pls. Send me the name and the picture pls .asap.

  11. Sir my husband is drinking daily and he didnt able to stop am having 2kids daily he is drinking and fighting with me and my in laws kindly help us want to stop drinking without any sideeffects and he should not know that wr are giving medicine to stop

    1. Hi NISHANTHI. Call a toll-free Alcohol Helpline on 1-888-675-1820 to find a high-quality alcohol addiction treatment program. This helpline is accessible 24/7 and gives you the chance to speak with trusted treatment consultants who can help you find an alcohol recovery program suited to your individual needs.

  12. Hi i was a heavy drunker in past, but from the last 1 month i am taking the Antabuse and in last 1 month i drink only 2 times and i feel bad effectsafter drinking like racing heart beat and nausea for that i hate alcohol. Believe me my urge for drink is gone ie up 80% but not totally(100%) , So please suggest how long i will continue to take piils.

  13. I want to take Antabuse and quit smoking either same day or a month later by using Chantix. I’m so done! I work at bars and live with roommates that pretty much drink everyday. Anyway, I have extreme insomnia and I sometimes take melatonin, unisom, sleepy tea, etc… The only thing that helps at night is Xanax or Valium. As soon as I transfer my medical insurance to my new state of residence then I’m setting my appt! Curious if the Xanax & Valium are safe with both medications? I am ready for this new me! Much needed. Oh, AND curious about the costs. I’ll have Obama Care

  14. I’m taking care of a friend and he’s a retired doctor and an alcoholic I really appreciate if I can get some advice on how I can help him thank you

    1. Hi Theresa. I suggest that you call the number you see on the website to speak with a trusted treatment consultant.

  15. My brother is an alcoholic for over ten years, he did go to rehab and was fine for a year he now back on it full swing he is actually now looking like a hobo does not even want to drink cool drinks and to eat pls suggest medication I can get for him to take in south Africa he has followed the 12 steps but now he does not care

  16. My husband is drinking on daily basis and he is hating me a lot by words and his habits, he is beating me a lot..i very much frustated but he is loving me..so the only reason is drinking habit only the bad habit of my husband.he is not ready to go hospital. I think to give good medicene with out his knowledge..kindly suggest me a good solution for my life.

  17. My dad has a drinking problem and everytime he drinks he becomes abusive and fight my mom physical. Its been going on for years and now its affecting his grandchildren. We got used of him but now most times he stays with my mother and my niece of 10 years and she get scared of such. What can we do because he doesn’t see what he had caused?

  18. Hello I want to treat one of my relative but without informing him that he is being treated so any suggestions

    1. Hi Kinjal. It seems to me that is impossible. Everyone should know what medications are taking, and how they affect their bodies.

  19. My husband drinks beer every single day. he gets really drunk. he doesnt doesnt accept that he has a drinking problem and refuses to see a proffesinal for help. can i give him madication without his approval to stop him from drinking? please help this is destroying his family and carreer

  20. Hi, I need help as my fiance is addicted to alcohol and smoking and this habit of his is causing lot of problems in our relationship…….if he does not want then also his friends take him along for drinking…….I seriously want help in making him quit his habit of drinking and smoking

  21. hi
    i want the name of medicine to stop alchohol
    and smoking
    pt age is 29 he is taking this from last 6/7 year . he having astama so kindly give the medicine which is no sideeffect to him

  22. Sir,
    Hi m from Tezpur Assam, and My cousin is slowly going to addicted in alcohol drinking if we give him any lesson he just listen to us and after some time he do what he want, I want ur help to avoid his habit through medicine, please advice me any medicine name which is easily got at my place Please mail me,

    1. Hi Suman. First, I suggest you stage an intervention for you brother. There is an NGO called Allies in Recovery that has some online reading that can help:
      Then, you may call the helpline on our site to contact our trusted treatment providers who can help your brother access an appropriate treatment program for him.

  23. Plz help me I’ve had a horrendous time my husband’s got cancer and I don’t want to go to a clinic.can I have these pills to stop me drinking pleeeeese x

    1. Hi Gillian. I’m very sorry about your life situation. You should consult an addiction professional to prescribe some of these pills to help you drinking. You can also call the number displayed on our site to contact our trusted treatment consultants.

  24. My husband does not stop drinking & he has some deficiency like unconscious feeling plz suggest something for leave to alcohol

  25. My daughter has a problem with drinking wine,she lives with me and my husband, last year she was drinking all the time but hiding not bottles of wine but boxes. She lost her job, that made her drink, I went to counselling l was a mess and so was her dad. My councillor says he would help her she went once said she preferred going to the psychiatrist at the doctors. But never kept the appointments!! She had a spell were she was trying not to drink but never lasted
    Just before Christmas she broke her foot, they kept her in hospital, I cleaned her room and again found trolley loads of wine boxes and bottles. It’s A Night Mare.

  26. Although Martin wrote his comment in November, I do hope that he still reads this blog and the comments. I experience what he did. I was recently diagnosed with Bipolar II and I started taking Lamotrigine. Now in the last couple of years I always drank few glasses of wine every evening. My doctor said I was not supposed to drink alcohol with this medication. I could not stop drinking. Then all of a sudden (and I am only taking a half pill per day), I just do not want to drink anymore. No cravings, no panic. Besides Martin, I could not find (so far) a single person online who had the same experience. I could not find scientific evidence either. The only idea is that drinking was strongly connected to the disorder. So once the condition gets better with the help of the medication, the urge to drink fades away…any thoughts????

  27. Heĺlo..I want to know that my dad drinking day n night..is the above mentioned medicines help him quitting alcohol,is there any side effect of these medicines..he is 67 years old..he has lever problems but he don’t care about it.

    1. Hi Aashmi. These medications help to either make a person sick when they drink or to block the need for alcohol, so the person doesn’t feel cravings for alcohol. However, they are not “magical pills” that can cure his alcohol addiction. You see, these meds are used as a part of a fully structured alcoholism treatment program. If he doesn’t work on the psychological aspects of his addiction and what leads him to drink so much, then with the pills he’s just masking the symptoms and not recovering really.

      So, there meds can certainly help in the process of becoming and staying sober, but they work best and give long-term results if used only as a part of the therapy process.

  28. Diagnosed as bipolar II, been on lithium for 8 years. Was more or less addicted to alchol, beer especially. Switched to Lamictal. All cravings for alcohol gone. Don’t want it, don’t need it. I suppose I could drink socially, but really don’t feel like it anymore. Nothing less than a miracle.
    Don’t know if there is science to back this up, but it was an unexpected “side effect” for me.

    1. Hi Natalaya. Medications that help with alcohol recovery are only a part of the whole comprehensive program. Ask your doctor about treatment centers for alcohol users that are in your area, then check if they take your insurance and what other options you have for cutting rehab costs. You cannot just take medications, they are not magic pills that cure addiction.

  29. Woud love help but please call between 9am thru 4pm. Im interested in taking meds and finding a doctor to stop drinking in my area

    1. Hi Paula. Please contact the helpline number displayed on our page whenever it is convenient to you, to talk to our trusted treatment providers who will help you find adequate treatment in you area if available.

  30. My father drinks regularly and abuse after that so please suggest me a medicine which is workfull to control their habbit of drinking alcohol

    1. Hello Sumit. Your father needs to get a medication prescribed by a doctor and as a part of a comprehensive alcoholism treatment plan. If he isn’t willing to accept treatment, you will have to organize a clinical detox at a detox facility, and support him through psychotherapy and counseling afterwards.

  31. Hello David. I’d suggest that you speak with a medical doctor about your options. The three generic options named above may/may not be available in Australia? But you’ll need a prescription and possible counseling/psychotherapy to get to the root cause of the drinking. I wish you all of the best!

  32. hi im dave im 42 years of age im a fly in fly worker all over Australia when im at home I will drink 24 to 30 xxxx gold per day at work probably 6 to 7 is there medication out there for me to stop

  33. Hi Reema. I’d suggest doing an intervention first, and then getting your brother in an alcohol addiction treatment program. This way he can work on the psychological reasons behind his habit. I don’t know if you already have some medications you have, but it’s not wise to use them. You can’t just sneak up and make him quit drinking.

  34. Hi. My brother is 30 years old and started drinking from the age of 20. He is addicted for alcohol now. Can we gv him sm medicine without letting him know and in how mny days he can leave alcohol?

  35. i have tried upscale rehab (got asked to leave). AA where a great deal of people have to be there due to court order. last but not least, shots administered by a physician. these shots cost $1000,00 each; had three. no results. i am 67, but i want to keep trying.

  36. ive been drinking just about every day for 16 long years recently ive tried to stop a few times but always go back to whisky after a month or so do these pills help long term

  37. I am in my 40’s. I am am alcoholic!! And a cicaine abuser. I have Adhd. The adderal took my cocaine craving away! Does lamictal make your alcohol craving go away from lamictal? I got hormonal aging going onto.?obgot a DUI!! I’m a binge drinker! Need help! In rehab! Not working cuz I love beer!

  38. Hello Ed. You’ll need to work with a psychiatrist or medical doctor to figure out which drugs may/may not work for you. A detailed physical and medical history goes into any diagnosis and/or administration of prescription medication.

  39. i have a psychological addiction to beer, just beer. i drink slow and steady so never get drunk as some of my friends might. in fact, i always need to be in control so drink short of a buzz. i have to ask myself, where is the value….why….it has to be psychological.
    i used Wellbutrin to stop smoking, it was easy and painless. no cravings for years. i’m looking for a similar medication to get me to stop drinking beer. My liver will be happy and healthier plus i’m sure to lose weight..
    recently i had to stop beer for 2.5 days for a medical procedure. i did without a flaw. i did not get the shakes or any negative physical reactions. i only felt anxious, my life was missing something……beer.
    i”v e read about a number of potential medications. can someone comment on which may be most appropriate for me. my doctor, and i need to be educated. i do not need beer in my life thus i am motivated.
    any feedback or advice would be greatly appreciated

  40. hi,i am a recovery addict(mostely alcohol was my drug of choice) i am sending you this e-mail because i have a question,and that is can i get naltrexone from my family doctor? to block that and is it really true that this works. and does it cost alot of money? thank you,maria

  41. my elder brother drink very much and he his not willinghly ready to leave drinking please tell me some medicines dr plz

  42. my prob is, i can drink 10 pints of larger every night, get up the next morning as if nothing happened. i will work 12 hours a day, every day coz im self employed. if i take tablets to stop drinking, will i be drouzey ro will i be capable of working these hours? please some 1 help and give me an answer

  43. Suggest the best way to leave hard drinking. In case of any medicine can help out, pls specify the name/s with side effect, if any, for Male & Female both.

  44. Hi Sarah. You can call 1-800-662-HELP and get connected with the National Drug Abuse hotline. They can recommend sliding scale treatment centers or local resources in your area to help.

  45. I am 28 years old and addicted to alcohol, I have been drinking for 10 years now on a daily basis. I do not have the money to goto rehab and get detoxed properly. Any suggestions?

  46. Are any of these chemicals in anaesthetic? I’ve had three operations in the past year. Following each one for several months I had no desire to drink. It was fabulous. The same has also happened to two friends following operations

  47. my father drink alot alocohol and usually fight with mom and me and his brother without any reason.he is getting weak day by day and say no to go to doctor….plz help me give me some suggestion what should i do?

  48. Hi Doris. I feel your love for your brother as you write about him. You do not have the power to make your brother stop drinking. It is his problem. If he wants help, you can learn about treatment options in your area. Until then, you might want to try out AL-ANON and learn new coping skills for yourself. If it VERY DIFFICULT to have someone in the family drinking themselves to death, but you can remove yourself from the drama and feel healthy again. This is important. Please let me know if we can help you find Al-Anon meetings in your area.

  49. Dear my 57 years old brother with COPD+CAD+FATY LIVER+Diabeth+Drug&Alcohal abuse, does not stop drinking.
    Please tell me how can i help him to stop just alcohal abuse.

  50. Curious to know if any of the experts are recovering addicts that used any of the pills to aid in their recovery process, and are there any stats available to support the use of the pills efficacy when used in conjunction with other methods?

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