Taking Medications in Recovery

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There will be times in everyone’s life where they will experience illness and other health complications. In most instances, these episodes are short in duration, but there will be other times in which more extensive professional care will be needed in order to regain health. In those instances were intensive care is needed, doctors and other medical professionals may prescribe prescription medications as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. While these medications are effective, many of them can also be highly addictive–and for those who are in recovery it can present a unique dilemma.

prescription pills in cabinet

The Million Dollar Question

For people who are recovering from substance abuse, the use of prescription medications in order to treat various illnesses is often a sensitive subject. There has been tremendous debate whether taking medications in recovery would be considered a relapse. As stated earlier, prescription medications are an effective tool in a long-term health and wellness plan when they are taken as directed by a doctor and done so under strict medical supervision. However, many of these prescription drugs can also become addictive and those in recovery who use them can find themselves backsliding into active drug use.

This concern has intensified with the dramatic increase in the use of prescription painkillers. In 2014, healthcare providers wrote 259 million prescriptions for medications such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Percodan. The use of prescribed medications in the United States in staggering. While the US only comprises 5 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 75 percent of the world’s prescription drug supply. It is estimated that 52 million people in the United States over the age of 12 have used medications non-medically in their lifetime.

There is no doubt that taking medications in recovery is a hot topic and the subject of endless debate in the recovery community. If you are in a situation in where taking medications may be necessary in order for you to overcome illness or disease, you must weigh the pros and cons of taking medications in recovery.

How Can Prescription Medications Lead to Relapse?

The view that the use of prescription medication while in recovery counts as a relapse is a view that are held by many in the recovery community, especially those who are in 12-Step groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The main line of reasoning people use in this argument is those who are recovering don’t have a tolerance to those drugs initially and the resulting high or euphoria when taken is not seen as acceptable. Therefore, any use of prescription drugs–even if it is needed in the treatment of diseases or after surgical procedures–is considered a relapse. For those who stand behind this argument, their main point is that the use of medications in recovery could lead to active addiction again, and the actual use of medications is  a relapse in itself.

How Can Prescription Medication Benefit Those in Recovery?

While there are definite risks in regards to taking medications in sobriety, there are others who are in the recovery community who feel that the use of prescription medications will not lead to relapse. Despite the obvious potential for both physical and psychological addiction, using prescription medications in recovery are not considered a relapse unless they are purposely abused. If medications are being taken exactly as prescribed, done under strict medical supervision and the dosages are not being increased in any way, taking pain medication or other prescribed medicines would not be considered relapse behavior.  Additionally, if these drugs are not being enhanced by alcohol or other drugs and if the individual is not shopping around for doctors to prescribe these drugs “under the table,” it would also not considered a relapse.

The Reality of Taking Medications While in Recovery

There are legitimate arguments on both sides of the proverbial fence regarding the use of medications while in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Despite the dangers, there are certain situations in which the use of prescription medications are absolutely necessary for the short-term management of pain like in cases of major surgery or for cancer treatments. What is also important to note is that the use of medications in these situation is only for the short term and is only effective when in use with other  treatments and therapies that are not prescription based.

In most situations, medical professionals assess the risks for addiction before prescribing any medication and if you have concerns about relapsing if these types of medications are being suggested, you need to be upfront with those concerns. There are alternative types of medication that can be used for different types of ailments that may pose no threat to recovery. To minimize the risk of addiction to prescribed medicines, you need to have a plan in place.

First and foremost, it is highly recommended that you alert your sponsor, family and friends and other recovering people to what is happening and ask for frequent visits from recovering people while in the hospital and while in recuperation. To minimize the risk between prescription drug use and relapse, you should be active in drug and alcohol counseling before and after surgery. If you are taking prescription medications and are experiencing  any problems with cravings, withdrawal, or depression you need to find a medical detox program immediately. It may also be a good idea to have someone who is in recovery help monitor your medication use.

Are You Concerned With the Risks of Prescription Medications?

The use of prescription medications in recovery can be a double-edged sword. While these medications can improve your health and quality of life during illness or after surgery, they also can have a high addiction potential and can undermine your recovery efforts. In the event that you are addicted to prescribed medications, Ocean Breeze Recovery Center can help you get back on track. Our experienced treatment staff utilizes a wide array of traditional and holistic therapy and treatment options to create a individual recovery plan that will give you the best chance of success.

Call Ocean Breeze Recovery Center right now.

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