When a person has overcome addiction, they often find themselves fighting a lifelong battle against relapsing once again. Some ex-addicts stay away from any type of prescription medication once they become sober, while others will take prescription medication as needed. Newly sober addicts often find themselves entering into this debate and wondering whether they should take necessary prescription medication.
Why Would Prescription Drugs be Unsafe?
Addiction is a disease requiring lifelong maintenance, and typically abstinence. When a person is addicted to a substance, encountering even a small dosage of the substance can cause him or her to relapse. For some addicts, taking an addictive substance, even one to which he or she was not formerly addicted, can lead to once again becoming addicted.
Although some prescriptions and over the counter medication are safe, as they do not have any addictive substances, there are many common prescription — and over the counter — medications that contain addictive substances, and thereby are dangerous for any addict to take. The best way to ensure that an addict is not unnecessarily exposed to an addictive substance is to discuss his or her addiction past with all medical professionals, including a dentist, that will be prescribing medication.
What Medications would be Considered Safe or Unsafe?
Many commonly used medications are safe, including antibiotics, antipsychotics, and antidepressants. As long as there is no addictive substance, then a person will most likely be safe. The most at-risk medications for recovering addicts to use would include any type of stimulant, such as amphetamine, or an opiate.
Drugs such as Ritalin, morphine, and Oxycotin, are highly at risk of substance abuse and addiction, so they would be unsafe, and most addicts would know that. However, even over the counter sleep aids, which some would not consider addicting, can be dangerous. Medications containing alcohol would likewise be unsafe for any addict to take.
Where the Problem Becomes more Complicated
Although many medications are clearly safe or unsafe, there are many prescription and over the counter medications that fall into a gray area. They may start a relapse in some of those in recovery, while others can take it with no problem.
Examples of these include allergy medication, relaxants, and laxatives. Some people also believe that some antidepressants can lead to addiction. A doctor will have to weigh the necessity of taking these medications with the individual’s risk of developing an addiction or relapsing.
The Problem with Addiction Treatment Medications
Another aspect of this controversy is the use of prescription medication for facilitating a person’s sobriety. Drugs such as methadone and Suboxone are regularly prescribed in treatment centers and by doctors to reduce a person’s withdrawal symptoms and cravings.
However, these drugs are synthetic opioids, which mean they act on the body in a similar way as other opioid drugs, including heroin and morphine. Although they have a reduced effect, they can still lead to dependence and addiction. Many people fear that relying upon this type of medically assisted detox just replaces one form of addiction for another.
Some addicts adhere to completely removing any form of drugs, including any prescriptions medication. They rely solely on alternative medicine and healing practices in order to avoid any potentially problematic situations. However, most addicts believe that as long as a medication is medically necessary, and a doctor supervises the administration, it is fine to take it. However, although doctors have a lot of education and information, they are not always the best judges as to whether an addict should take a potentially risky medication. Each individual person has to make that decision for him or herself.