If you are in recovery from addiction, you will no doubt be aware of temptations you need to avoid to prevent relapse. In the early days, you will probably stay away from former friends who are still drinking or taking drugs and parties will also be avoided. However, going forward and maybe even for the rest of your life, you will need to think very carefully before taking any medication. It is precarious for recovering addicts to take any medication because even an innocent pill could be enough to put you on the path to relapse.
The type of medication you need to be particularly aware of is the mood-altering type. While it is obvious that tranquilisers and strong painkillers should be avoided, there are some antihistamines that could also be considered addictive and should, therefore, be avoided. Medication that affects the ability to think clearly can trigger relapse so these should be avoided at all costs as well.
The first time a recovering addict takes a medication that impairs his or her ability to think clearly could result in their brain‘s frontal lobe being affected. This can immediately cause attitude to switch from a positive one to a negative one. It can also lead to you being unable to resist the compulsion to drink or take drugs, which can then obviously lead to relapse.
The most dangerous drugs for a recovering addict to take are sedatives, strong painkillers, tranquilisers, stimulants, and some antihistamines. This would include sleeping pills, anti-anxiety tablets, amphetamines, and anti-depressants.
You may be now assuming that non-mood-altering medications are okay to take, but the reality is that these should also be avoided if possible. Even an empty capsule could become addictive to a recovering addict if they have convinced themselves that it will help make them feel better. No matter how innocent a pill may seem to you, there is a chance that it could trigger a relapse, so it is better to avoid all pills if possible. The good news is that, as you progress in your recovery, you will not feel the need to take any pills.
In an ideal world, all recovering addicts would avoid any medication. However, we do not live in an ideal world, so this is something that is simply not possible for everyone. Some addicts suffer from other conditions that require medication to limit the symptoms they are experiencing. It could be that they are suffering from depression so severe that they cannot move on from their addiction without medical treatment for this depression. For some people, mood-altering drugs are necessary. In these cases, drugs may be prescribed by a GP or within an inpatient rehabilitation centre.
It may be that the affected individual will have to continue taking these drugs for the rest of his or her life. Nevertheless, unless he or she has been diagnosed with a chronic mental illness, he/she will usually be weaned from the drugs after brain function has been stabilised. If the patient manages to function well with the lower dose, he or she may be able to stop taking this medication on a permanent basis. Nonetheless, if there are signs that the patient cannot cope without the drugs, he or she may have to continue taking for a while before attempting are made to wean off them completely again in the future.
There are times during your recovery that you will need to take medication for pain, such as after an operation or following dental work. It is important that you speak to your doctor or dentist before being prescribed any medication so that the safest choices are made.