New medications that ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings are helping addicts stop drinking, smoking and abusing drugs.
Campral is a fairly new drug that has shown promise in helping alcoholics, said Dr. Robert Nisbet, a University of Oklahoma professor and expert on chemical dependency.
Campral helps reduce the physical and emotional discomfort, including anxiety and irritability, that can lead alcoholics in abstinence to relapse.
“Campral seems to depress this reaction,” he said. “They are less driven to drink. It suppresses their urge.”
Nisbet said medical treatments for addiction should be combined with counseling and 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Other drug treatments for alcoholism can suppress the “buzz” of drinking, or make a person very ill if they ingest alcohol.
Chantix is the newest prescription drug for smoking cessation, although there have been reports it causes behavioral changes in some people, including agitation and suicidal thoughts.
The drug, approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2006, works by blocking the effects of nicotine to the brain.
Nicotine gum, lozenges and patches are called nicotine replacement therapy because they take the place of nicotine from cigarettes. They can help with withdrawal and lessen the urge to smoke.