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Sometimes medication is prescribed for alcoholics as aversion therapy. When alcohol is used in conjunction with these medications, the patient may experience a variety of reactions including nausea, vomiting, flushing (reddening and warming of the face/neck), and increased heart rate. Antabuse (Disulfiram) is the most widely prescribed aversive medication. It causes acetaldehyde to build up in the bloodstream by blocking the action of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase.

As with any medication, Antabuse should be taken only under the supervision of a physician. It is contraindicated for people with certain medical conditions and for pregnant women. Additionally, since Antabuse should not be used in combination with a number of other medications, medical supervision is essential. The patient must also be instructed to avoid certain products containing alcohol such as after-shave lotions, cologne, or foods that may have alcohol as an ingredient.

Another medication recently approved for alcoholism is Naltrexone (ReVia). Historically, Naltrexone was used in treatment of narcotic addiction. It works to decrease the craving for alcohol.