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Developments in the Treatment of Alcoholism

      The treatment of alcoholism has changed during the past 2 decades. Notable developments have occurred in pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy, and health-care delivery. A better understanding of the biologic basis for addiction has led to clinical trials of medications that target neuroreceptors. One such medication is the opiate antagonist naltrexone, which decreases the craving for alcohol. Psychosocial interventions continue to be the mainstay of alcohol treatment programs. The efficacy of three different therapies was demonstrated in a study called Project MATCH (Matching Alcoholism Treatments to Client Heterogeneity). This study, however, did not prove the patient-treatment “matching” hypothesis. In addition to therapies provided by addiction specialists, interest is growing in the use of brief motivational techniques in primary-care settings. As the field of addiction responds to an unfolding health-care delivery system, a broader range of treatment options in conjunction with a greater opportunity to individualize patient care is evolving.
      AA (Alcoholics Anonymous), CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Therapy), CIWA-Ar (Clinical Institute Withdrawal Assessment for Alcohol scale), MATCH (Matching Alcoholism Treatments to Client Heterogeneity), MET (Motivational Enhancement Therapy), NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), TSF (Twelve-Step Facilitation)
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