Medication and Addiction Recovery

So far this blog has focused mainly on mental health issues.  Today, however, I want to discuss an area related to addiction and recovery.  The area I want to focus on is the use of medication to help an individual stay clean and sober.  There are numerous medications being used in recovery from addiction, four of the main medications are: Naltrexone, Antabuse, Methadone, and Suboxone.  Antabuse is used for alcohol dependence, and works by making the individual feel extremely ill after consuming alcohol.  Methadone and Suboxone are both for opioid abusers.  Naltrexone is used both for opioid abuse and alcohol abuse.

I can speak from personal experience about both Antabuse and Naltrexone.  I took Antabuse for a few months, and have now been taking Naltrexone for over a year.  I have had a drink with both medications, so I can speak not only to their ability to inspire sobriety, but also on the effects of alcohol while on the medications.  Antabuse, while supposed to make you feel violently ill on alcohol, did not cause that effect on me, though I did limit the alcohol I consumed, due to my extreme fear of vomit (egh).

Naltrexone was in my system when I took my last drink.  This medication blocks the euphoric effects and feelings of intoxication that alcohol can create.  While I knew this was supposed to be what the medication did, it did not stop me that one day from drinking, nor did it prevent my devastation of not feeling my last drink(s).  I can speak from personal experience that drinking while on Naltrexone is useless, and if not careful, can be dangerous…if you do not feel the alcohols effects, you may be inclined to drink more than a safe amount.  I think that if you are drinking while on a stop-drinking medication, it’s doubtful that you will be careful.

There is no abuse potential to Naltrexone, which makes this a safe medication.  However, as written about by CBS News, Naltrexone is largely under prescribed.  There have been times when I have been tempted to drink, but knowing that there would be no positive feeling from it, I abstained.  For that reason, I know that this drug can make a very positive difference in staying sober.

There are people in the recovery community who frown on using medications to stay clean and sober, however, I disagree with that line of thought.  As I said, this drug has helped to keep me sober.  If someone wants and/or needs to stop drinking or drugging, than I think they should take every advantage afforded to them.  Whether it be a group like AA or NA, a SMART meeting, or, medication.  If medication is what keeps you sober, then great, you are sober.  That’s certainly better than the alternative.

I found that AA didn’t really work for me.  Sitting around talking about drinking did the opposite of keeping me on the path of sobriety.  I still go to a meeting here or there, but largely, I use medication and therapy to help keep me from relapse.  I also avoid tempting situations, and have stopped going to places where I drank.  I hope knowledge of the helpfulness of medication options makes the use more acceptable.

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