It doesn’t matter if somebody is traveling on vacation or business; the temptations can add up to a string of moments when renewal is neglected and sobriety is flung out the window.
Lifestyles are evolving though and for travelers, who happen to be recovering alcoholics, the opportunities are excellent.
There are no statistics tracing the spread of “sober travel”. However, a Google search yields over 2.3 million results for topics such as sober music festivals, alcohol-free camping, recovering yoga retreats as well as booze-free boating on luxury cruises.
Volunteer managed websites, such as SoberTravelers.org provide an abundance of resources.
Twelve-steppers have unique logistical concerns such as the need to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and how to manage, possibly, being around others who are drinking.
For a person strongly motivated to quit drinking, modern medicine has come up with a kind of “vaccine” to help get through the tempting times.
Vivitrol and Sobriety
Vivitrol is an injectable that originally found a home in heroin treatment. Over the past twenty years, it has evolved into a valid choice for people who want to stop drinking.
For an alcoholic wishing to stop, giving up booze is possibly the toughest thing they will ever have to do. Alcohol changes the brain’s chemistry by exciting chemical agents that generate pleasurable feelings and a sense of well-being, two things that are difficult to quit chasing.
The long-term use of alcohol eventually interferes with the body’s natural creation of dopamine and serotonin — the neurotransmitters responsible for those great feelings. While an alcoholic may think that booze and beer will provide a euphoric boost, the brain eventually stops responding, and it takes more and more alcohol to reach the same levels of “buzz.”
Even when the brain stops responding, the nervous system is still affected, and judgment is impaired. The result is depression and physical sickness after drinking massively. When alcohol no longer causes a person to feel good, the body’s dependence can still drive someone to keep boozing.
That’s where Vivitrol comes in.
Vivitrol is not used to control symptoms of alcoholic withdrawal, and it is not a silver bullet that cures dependence. Vivitrol is meant to:
- Help deal with alcohol cravings
- Lower relapse risk
- Provide physical support while participating in counseling and therapy
The best results from Vivitrol are seen in alcoholics who are already motivated to stop. The medication is not a replacement for behavior modification or therapy; it is merely a support tool that helps a person stay focused on recovery instead of “white-knuckling” it.
Pros and Cons
If somebody is considering employing Vivitrol as a component of a treatment program, a genuine discussion with a qualified physician is the first order of business. Vivitrol is not right for everyone and, as with any other medication, there are both upsides and downsides.
On the upside:
- Vivitrol can make it simpler to adhere to a treatment plan
- The results of the injectable method are more consistent and
- A monthly shot can make the process more accessible
On the downside:
- The injection might cause skin reactions such as redness, swelling or tissue death
- Vivitrol is more costly than oral medication
- Monthly injections need to receive top priority
- Using Vivitrol can increase sensitivity to opiates
- Possible death through opioid overdose
Is That All That’s Needed?
Vivitrol can make it easier to deal with sobriety, but much more than medication is needed to attain life-long recovery. Most have to change their thought patterns, health habits, and general attitude. In addition to Vivitrol, an intensive treatment program consisting of individual therapy, nutritional counseling and a 12-step program, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, is needed.
Vivitrol can be a valuable addition to any recovery program and will work for those who want to stop the destructive cycle of alcohol abuse. As with any medication, a heart-to-heart discussion with a qualified expert should be undertaken before giving Vivitrol “a shot”.