Just hopped over to Nelson’s blog, One Drunk’s Tale and his latest post: “I’m a Good Boy Now”. He talks about being on Antabuse and I’ve just told him good for you and I guess that’s my view, really – whatever keeps you sober, buddy. Of course if we can overcome something – be it a headache or freaking childbirth – au naturel, great, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong in seeking medical help if this is what will make the difference. For the record, when I gave birth I demanded they pump me full of every damn drug they had in stock. Other women might gasp in horror and advocate delivering your own baby whilst sitting in a meadow surrounded by deer and butterflies but that wasn’t me. I did what worked for me (and obviously – to be clear – with my baby’s safe arrival in mind and as a priority before you think I was brandishing a crack pipe and a bottle of vodka in the delivery room). And why should recovery be different as long as it keeps all concerned safe and doesn’t involve anything stupid? Some of us go to meetings, some of us go it alone, some of us check into rehab and some of us try medication.
From what I understand, when you’re on Antabuse you get violently ill if you consume alcohol so I suppose it’s mostly a big deterrent, as opposed to e.g. Naltrexone which counters the effect of opiates and booze and as such should rewire your brain to deem those pointless. Something like that.
This is what the NHS website says about Antabuse (or Disulfiram as it’s branded here): “Disulfiram works by deterring you from drinking by causing unpleasant physical reactions if you drink alcohol. These can include nausea, chest pain, vomiting and dizziness.“
I suspect it’s a case of different strokes for different folks and I’ve heard people praise and curse both Antabuse and Naltrexone. The latter I actually looked into about a year before I stopped drinking. I’d seen the Ted talk by Claudia Christian (“One Little Pill”) and it sounded magical to me – a pill that’d somehow turn me into a normal drinker, which is what her talk kind of suggested. The idea makes me shudder now, but I think the way it has sometimes been marketed and in particular as the Sinclair Method wasn’t necessarily as a means to break free from addiction but how to drink “normally”. To me, whilst I was still very much in the grip of the Beast, this was music to my ears. It was around this time I sought help at the Priory and had some counselling. The counsellor, a fellow alcoholic, shook her head, shot me a resigned smile and told me she’d tried everything, this included. Therefore, I sort of dismissed it as pointless but I’ve heard lots of people say it’s really worked for them.
I guess back then, I would have been much more inclined to try Naltrexone because the problem was that I still wanted to drink and Naltrexone seemed like a way to do just that. Antabuse is therefore a very different gig altogether. Apparently you can have it as a sort of implant too. Thinking about it and trying to figure out how Drunk Me would have seen it, I imagine only someone who is dead serious about stopping drinking chooses Antabuse. When I still wanted to drink (and therefore still drank!) I would have just skipped taking the damn thing and Naltrexone would have been the only option I’d consider as it’d allow me to drink, simple as that. With Antabuse, I guess you really have to mean it.
Beethoven, the general manager at the rehab, actually said something similar about heroin addicts. He said he knows how serious someone is about coming off the drugs depending on which medication they ask for. When a heroin addict asks to be put on Methadone, they still want to use but when they want “the subbies” (Subotex, brand name for Buprenorphine) he knows he’s working with someone willing to give it a good go. Buprenorphine will make you very sick if you do heroin. Kind of the same thing.
So I guess based on this little hypothesis, we could conclude that good ol’ Nelson is very serious about this. Obviously I already knew this, but this I suppose underlines it.
What’s your view? Was your recovery helped along by medication? Thoughts, perspectives, opinions? I’m all ears as usual when it comes to all things recovery.
Today I’m not going to drink.