Lithium Use in Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Lithium is one of the oldest psychotropic drugs on the market. It’s primarily used to help stabilize moods in those who have bipolar disorder, which includes experiences of both depression and mania. However, it has also been used to help with alcohol addiction treatment.
When someone is healing from an addiction to alcohol, especially if that addiction was long and intense, then he or she is likely going to experience psychological, physical, and emotional symptoms while the body and brain learn to live without alcohol and stabilize. The psychological experiences that a recovering addict has can be the most troubling.
To minimize the challenges of anxiety, depression, and mania that a person might have while withdrawing from alcohol, doctors frequently prescribe medication. One of these is lithium, which has worked specifically to address the depression and mania.
However, experts disagree on what specifically lithium can treat in a recovering addict. There is a debate concerning whether lithium is really only good for those recovering addicts who also suffer from bipolar disorder. Recent research suggests that this likely the case.
Treating Mental Illnesses as Well
Nonetheless, there are many recovering addicts who discover that they do in fact have an underlying mental illness and who need some sort of psychotropic medication. In fact, according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, approximately 45% of people with an addiction also had another form of mental illness. And many of these cases involve either depression or bipolar disorder.
As a mood stabilizer, lithium is used to treat both depression and mania. However, it is used more frequently to treat mania. Lithium is a substance that exists as a chemical element in nature. When used as a medication, however, lithium is often combined with other chemicals. For instance, the most commonly prescribed form of lithium is Lithium Carbonate, which is a combination of lithium, carbon, and oxygen.
Pros and Cons Of Lithium Use
Lithium is a mild drug meaning that it can take someone up to a month before they experience its therapeutic effects. This might be challenging for recovering addicts who are in need of help with their withdrawal symptoms. However, doctors are aware of this and prescribe the right doses at the right time in order to alleviate pain and discomfort.
If you’re taking lithium as a part of your alcohol addiction treatment, you should know about some potential dangers of the drug. There is the risk of kidney damage as well as problems with the thyroid. To avoid these risks, recovering addicts taking lithium are asked to go for regular blood and urine tests.
It’s possible for the drug to reach toxic levels and begin to create significant damage to the body. Being tested on a regular basis can prevent this. Also, many who take the drug will experience likely gain weight. Lastly, if you’re taking lithium and you relapse or begin to use alcohol again, the side effects of lithium will get worse and the effects of the drug will decrease.
If you’re in recovery and you’re experiencing psychological and emotional challenges, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist about the possibility of taking lithium to ease your recovery experience.
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