Life on the road is no picnic. For alcoholics trying to stop drinking, it can be their undoing.

It doesn’t matter if someone is traveling on vacation or business, the temptations can add up to a series of shameful moments when recovery is forgotten and sobriety is tossed out of the window.

Lifestyles are changing though and for travelers, who happen to be recovering alcoholics, the options are great.

There are no statistics tracking the increase in “sober travel”. However, a Google search yields over 2.3 million results for subjeccts such as sober music festivals, alcohol-free camping, recovering yoga retreats as well as booze-free boating on luxury crusies.

Twelve-steppers have unique logistical concerns such as the need to attend AA 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

For a recovering alcoholic, giving up booze is possibly the hardest thing they will ever have to do. Alcohol affects the brain’s chemistry by stimulating chemical messengers that produce 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 production of dopamine and serotonin — the neurotransmitters responsbile for those good 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 heavily. When alcohol no longer makes a person feel good, the body’s dependence can still drive someone to keep drinking.

That’s where Vivitrol comes in.

Vivitrol

Vivitrol is not used to manage symptoms of alcoholic withdrawal and it is not a silver bullet that cures dependence. Vivitrol may:

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 someone is thinking about using Vivitrol as a component of a treatment program, a good discussion with a qualified physciian 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 easier to stick with a treatment plan
The effects of the injectable form are more consisten
A monthly shot can be more convenient

On the downside:

 

The injection might cause skin reactions such as redness, swelling or tissue death
Vivitrol is more expensive 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 patters, 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”.