Alcoholism

Rebirth of an alcoholic

I’ve struggled with alcoholism for almost twenty years now. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs: periods of sobriety and periods of pure chaos. When things are bad, I’ll drink a full 750 ml bottle worth or more of cheap vodka a day. There are even times I’ve kept a pint bottle in my pocket at work. I could go on, but that’s not the point. I’m just trying to provide some context as to the magnitude of my problem.

I’ve tried all sorts of things: counseling, AA, Rational Recovery, SMART Recovery, antidepressants, and on and on. Nothing has provided long-term relief from debilitating cravings—until now.

My wife came across a documentary on Netflix called One Little Pill. The namesake pill is naltrexone, an opioid antagonist. Essentially it blocks the brain’s opiate receptors, so when you have a drink, the subsequent surge of endorphin no longer provides that euphoric high. Over time, your brain unlearns years of drink-reward reinforcement and your desire to drink diminishes through a process called pharmacological extinction.

What that means for myself is that when I take a swig of vodka, there’s no explosion of pleasure. It’s no different than drinking water. In fact it’s much worse, because cheap straight vodka is disgusting. Where I used to get butterflies of anticipation in my stomach at just the thought of drinking, now the taste makes me nauseous.

In the months since I started down this road, my desire to drink has vanished completely. What’s more, I have been able to once again enjoy beer and wine for their taste, without worrying about not being able to stop. It’s amazing and has changed my life.