A study by the BMC Psychiatry Journal on Treating Alcohol Addiction Using Topiramate reported another benefit of Topiramate: it lowers the levels of depression and anxiety that many people experience during alcohol withdrawal —ideal for people struggling with their mental health.
Topiramate is commonly used to treat epilepsy, seizures and migraines, but it also effectively treats moderate and severe alcohol addiction.
Branded as Topamax, it’s also used to successfully reduce alcohol cravings, allowing people to live alcohol-free lives.
It’s typically used in low doses when a patient starts an alcohol detox, under the supervision of professionals, as part of their rehabilitation. It also helps throughout the entire rehab process as part of a long-term treatment plan.
How Does It Work?
Alcohol cravings often lead to addiction as some people struggle to find the willpower to say no to a drink. The drug reduces alcohol cravings, so it helps lessen the emotional pull that people experience when they want a drink.
People often enjoy the effects of alcohol as it makes them feel happy, confident and relaxed. Reports suggest that people don’t enjoy alcohol when they take Topiramate, which lessens the pull of drinking. Topiramate also reduces the urge to drink if you’re feeling anxious or nervous.
Topiramate shares similarities with Acamprosate (often sold under the brand name Campral). They work by altering the brain’s chemistry by reducing glutamate and increasing the role of the GABA receptor, the part of the brain responsible for your central nervous system. Drinking alcohol alters GABA production, leading to stress, depression and anxiety. Taking Topiramate aims to bring balance to your nervous system as it helps you avoid alcohol.
How Do I Take Topiramate?
Topiramate comes in tablet form in varying strengths from 25mg to 200mg. You take it before, during or after a meal, starting on a high dose, although your doctor will amend the daily amount to suit your cravings. It’s vital that you take the prescribed dose as taking more than you need can make you very unwell. If you’re unclear, please speak to your doctor.
Topiramate is designed to be taken whole — not crushed or chewed, as the tablets can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
If you forget to take a tablet, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose is due, skip your missed dose and take it as usual, but speak to your doctor for clarification.
What Are The Side Effects of Topiramate?
There will always be side effects with any prescribed medication, but in the case of Topiramate, they are mild and often disappear once your body gets used to it. You may not experience any adverse effects. A very common side effect is depression; it can intensify existing depression and create new episodes. Please speak to your doctor if you are concerned about the impact of Topiramate on your mental health.
Here are some common side effects:
-Sore throat and runny nose
-Diarrhoea and feeling sick
-Tingling in legs and arms
-Trouble focusing, remembering and concentrating
-Frequent or painful urination
For comprehensive information about potential side effects, have a read of Topiramate’s manufacturer information leaflet.
Let your doctor know if you experience side effects. They can reduce your dose and try you on a different medicine that works better for you.
Is Topiramate Suitable For Everyone?
Topiramate is ideal for people trying to beat alcohol addiction and reduce their cravings, but everyone can’t take it. These groups include:
-Those who have kidney or liver problems
-If you’re pregnant or trying for a baby
-If you have eye problems such as glaucoma
-A blood or body fluid condition
-You’re following a high-fat diet.
Make sure you discuss your medical history with your doctor and run through any medications you’re taking. Topiramate can interfere with other medicines, stopping them from working and worsening existing health conditions.
Will I Become Addicted To Topiramate?
Studies show that Topiramate addiction is rare; it’s not a habit-forming medicine. This is reassuring if you’re already trying to overcome alcohol addiction. If you find yourself becoming addicted (and this is unlikely), make sure you speak to your addiction specialist, as they can help.
How Long Does It Take For My Cravings To Stop?
If you’re completing a detoxification programme, you’ll notice the benefits within a few days. It can take around three weeks for the full effects of Topiramate to kick in, meaning that your cravings will subside around this time. Topiramate and alcohol abstinence will make you feel mentally focused and ready to start your long-term recovery.
If you’re lucky to have the support of your family and friends throughout your recovery process, let them know about the benefits of Topiramate and why you’re taking it.
Topiramate As Part Of Your Recovery Process
You may have suffered from alcohol addiction for many years, so it will take time for your body (and mind) to get used to not drinking. Topiramate plays a small but often life-changing role in your recovery process — as long as it’s combined with counselling, support groups and an ongoing determination to get sober.
To conquer your alcohol addiction, you must attend group therapy and personal counselling sessions. If you’re an inpatient, you’ll take part throughout your stay. As an outpatient, you’ll still have the same level of support, but you need to be motivated to attend regularly.
These sessions and groups will motivate and inspire you, raising your determination to stay sober as you learn from others in the same boat. Individual counselling helps you tackle any problems you’re experiencing, find a way forward and practice positive behaviours.
When Do I Stop Taking Topiramate?
Using medication to help alcoholism is often temporary, but it can have lasting results, giving you the kickstart you need to help you stay sober. Discuss with your doctor if you think you’re ready to come off Topiramate, as they can advise you on your next steps.
If you want to learn more about Topiramate and our treatment options for alcohol addiction, please call us on 0800 470 0382.