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Possible New Alcohol Withdrawal Treatment

Some 20 million Americans suffer from alcoholism or alcohol use disorder. And the problem has only intensified during the pandemic.

One of the significant challenges to recovering from an addiction to alcohol and many drugs is withdrawal. That's what happens to your body when an addictive substance is removed from your bloodstream.

According to WebMD, withdrawal from alcohol can have these symptoms:

Mild symptoms usually show up as early as 6 hours after you put down your glass. They can include:

More serious problems range from hallucinations about 12 to 24 hours after that last drink to seizures within the first two days after you stop. You can see, feel, or hear things that aren't there.

That isn't the same as delirium tremens, or DTs as you're likely to hear them called. DTs usually start 48 to 72 hours after you put down the glass. These are severe symptoms that include vivid hallucinations and delusions. Only about 5% of people with alcohol withdrawal have them. Those that do may also have:

Given the challenges of withdrawal, many with an addiction to alcohol fail to reach abstinence.

Well, researchers at Yale believe a drug commonly used to control hypertension can help reduce these symptoms. Their paper was recently published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.[i]

In a double-blind study, the Yale team gave the drug prazosin or a placebo to 100 people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder. All had been experiencing symptoms of withdrawal prior to treatment.

The study suggests that those experiencing symptoms such as shakes, heightened cravings and anxiety, and difficulty sleeping and who received prazosin saw far fewer heavy drinking episodes compared to those in the placebo group. The drug did not seem to have any effect on those who were not experiencing symptoms.

Other studies at Yale have shown that prazosin may help relieve general symptoms of craving and anxiety.

One drawback to this therapy - prazosin needs to be administered three times daily to be effective.

If you're struggling with an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Florida, or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique, Yale-inspired in-home model of care gives clients a significantly better chance of recovery than traditional inpatient rehab care. To learn more, please contact one of our Recovery Specialists.


[i] Rajita Sinha, Stephanie Wemm, Nia Fogelman, Verica Milivojevic, Peter M. Morgan, Gustavo A. Angarita, Gretchen Hermes, Helen C. Fox. Moderation of Prazosin’s Efficacy by Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms. American Journal of Psychiatry, 2020

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