Naltrexone

Melinda McDowell had used drugs since she was a teenager. But she didn't try methamphetamine until one fateful night in 2017 after her mother died suddenly of a stroke. She went to a neighbor's house and he had crystal meth.

"I tried it and I was hooked from the first hit," McDowell says. "It was an explosion of the senses. It was the biggest high I'd ever experienced."

Heidi de Marco/Kaiser Health News

At a time when the U.S. government is trying to deal with a nationwide opioid epidemic, many jails across the country are only now rolling out medicines to help inmates overcome addiction. And most of those jails dispense only one of the drugs currently available.

Two often-overlooked medications might help millions of Americans who abuse alcohol to quit drinking or cut back.

Public health officials, building on a push to treat people who abuse opioids with medications, want physicians to consider using medications to treat alcohol addiction. The drugs can be used in addition to or sometimes in place of peer-support programs, they say.