When it comes to substance use disorder medications, the most well-known are the ones that treat addictions to opioids. But did you know that medications can be used to effectively treat and manage alcohol use disorders as well? Here are some key facts.
We spoke with one Shatterproof supporter, who asked to remain unnamed, about her experience using Antabuse as well as Vivitrol. She said that, like all medications, there were elements that worked for her and elements that didn’t.
“While Antabuse helped me stop drinking, it didn’t change the circumstances in my life that led to my drinking,” she said. “I needed more support to deal with the underlying issues that fueled my addiction.” Still, she reported that her husband found Antabuse very helpful. “He took it religiously for a year and it made all the difference for him. He has now been in recovery for almost 10 years and credits Antabuse for paving the way.”
Her experience with Vivitrol had similar ups and downs. She said the medication gave her “peace of mind” in the early days of recovery, but access was an issue. “Vivitrol was not covered by my insurance, so I had to pay around $1,400 out of pocket each month to get a single shot. None of the doctors where I lived were approved to administer it, so I had to drive over an hour each way to see a doctor who could.”
Though all medications for substance use disorders are safe and effective, they remain underused and difficult to access. This is especially true for alcohol use disorder medications. According to 2019’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, just 1.6% of people with alcohol use disorders reported using medications to treat their condition.
Though alcohol is normalized in our culture, an addiction to this substance can be just as dangerous as any other. It’s not something you should try to quit using alone or abruptly. In fact, depending on the severity of illness, quitting alcohol “cold turkey” can be harmful and even deadly.
When beginning treatment for alcohol use, it’s very important to seek the guidance and supervision of qualified health care professionals. Together, patients and doctors can decide if medications could help maintain health and comfort along the recovery journey.