DAVID MARKS, MD: Once they get through that withdrawal period, some patients may require continuous treatment with other medications.
RICHARD ROSENTHAL, MD: Yes.
DAVID MARKS, MD: What kind of medications are we talking about?
CAROL WEISS, MD: Well, there are three classes of medications that we tend to use now that we're very interested in. The first is a medication that's been around for a long time. It's a drug called Antabuse. Many people are familiar with it. It's a drug that is taken daily. In and of itself, it doesn't have any effects, but if you drink while you are taking the Antabuse, then you get sick; either flushed, nauseous, throwing up. It is a disincentive to drinking. The knowledge that it's in you helps you not drink.
The other drug that we use is Naltrexone, also called ReVia. This drug has come out just much more recently, for the use of alcoholism. It previously was used with opiates like heroin. Now, it is a drug that you take daily. When you take it, it decreases the craving or the desire to drink. It also decreases the pleasure associated with drinking. So you can drink on it, but you don't want to and so you tend not to. You don't obsess with it as much.
The third class, I'll let Rick talk about.
RICHARD ROSENTHAL, MD: It's the antidepressants. It turns out that there are two things that we know. One is that there's a high rate of depressive disorders among people with alcoholism. Clearly, when you treat those depressions with antidepressants the depression gets better, but it may also have an additive effect on drinking behavior. There seems to be some use of these newer antidepressants, especially the SSRI type of medications, in people with alcoholism in that it will also reduce the amount that they would drink in an episode of drinking. It may also decrease the frequency with which they drink.
None of these things is a panacea. All of these medications only really work well in the context of ongoing treatment, meaning behavioral treatment or psychological treatment.
DAVID MARKS, MD: So they're just another weapon in our armamentarium to treat alcohol abuse.
RICHARD ROSENTHAL, MD: That's correct.
DAVID MARKS, MD: Okay, Carol Weiss, Rick Rosenthal, thank you for joining us. Thank you for joining our webcast. I'm Doctor David Marks.