Why have I not heard of medicines available to assist alcoholics and addicts in their struggle?

This is a very good question. Addiction has been long been considered a behavioral issue or a moral failing, not a medical problem. Our country’s treatment of addiction has been primarily behaviorally based, intended to help addicts make better choices.  This approach has been challenging, unfortunately often resulting in creating shame, guilt and loss of self-esteem for those suffering relapse.  

While a sincere effort has been made to treat addiction with the psycho-social/behavioral aspect of the illness, the overall success rates of addicts maintaining sobriety have remained abysmally low.  Why is that?  It is because the physiologic and pharmacologic aspect of treatment has been largely ignored and under-developed. Changing from a purely behavioral model to the medically assisted model modifies the view of addiction treatment.   

Treating the incurable, life-long disease of addiction should be approached in a similar way to other chronic life-long diseases, employing a combination of psychosocial (counseling) physiological (health and nutrition) and pharmacological (medications such as naltrexone) modalities.