NOTE: This information came from NAMI and other sources, as well as my own experiences.
Long-acting injectables (LAIs) can be helpful when an individual with mental illness either refuses or is not compliant with medication, often with very unfortunate results. Most of the people I’ve met who are using LAIs got started in a hospitalization or a situation in which they had regularly become a danger to themselves.
LAIs slowly release medicine into the blood. Injectable medications used for individuals living with mental illness include: Abilify Maintena®, Aristada®, Haldol decanoate®, Invega Sustenna®, Invega Trinza®, fluphenazine decanoate, Risperdal Consta®, and Zyprexa Relprevv®. The LAIs can last anywhere from 2-12 weeks with just one dose, which helps to control symptoms of mental illness.
What do LAIs do?
LAIs treat psychosis (hallucinations or delusions) in individuals with schizophrenia. Some LAIs may be used as mood stabilizers in individuals with bipolar disorder.
How can an LAI help?
Living with active psychosis causes many people to make very bad decisions, which can result in arrests and involuntary commitments. LAIs can help individuals stick to a medication plan.
When comparing LAIs to pill medications, LAIs may lower the chances of someone going to the hospital. LAIs allow for a steady level of medicine in the blood. These steady levels help lower the chance of side effects. The LAIs may also help improve quality of life and satisfaction with medicine.
How are LAIs given?
LAIs are given as an injection in the muscles of the arm or bottom. When starting a LAI for the first time, individuals may also have to take pill medication for a few weeks. The pill allows the injection to have time to start working. Injections are given every two to 12 weeks depending on the medication.
What if I’m interested in an LAI?
If interested in a LAI, talk to a doctor. A LAI may not be right for every person with a mental illness. The main side effect of a LAI is pain at the injection site.
When talking to a doctor, ask:
- How will a LAI help?
- What symptoms will a LAI control?
- What side effects may occur?
- What blood work will need to be done?
How can I pay for an LAI?
LAIs are usually expensive. Many insurance plans should help cover the cost of one of the LAIs. The drug company for each medicine may also be able to help.