Is it Okay to Take Narcotic Medication in Recovery?

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August 02, 2010

Is it Okay to Take Narcotic Medication in Recovery?


I was at a 12-step meeting a few evenings ago and the topic of conversation was: is it okay to take medication if you are in AA or NA? I have worked in the field of addiction for some time now, and I can commend and respect an individual in early recovery not wanting to take any type of medications once they are finally able to put some clean time together. I was the same way. During my early recovery, I was unable to get a full night’s sleep for months on end. It was suggested that I go see a psychiatrist to possibly get a prescription of a non-narcotic medication that would help me sleep.  I refused.  I felt that if I was going to be drug free, I wasn’t going to take any medications at all.  Eventually, I started sleeping through the night, but being so tired did not make my early recovery easy.

A large number of people who have a drug or alcohol addiction also suffer from a coexisting mental illness such as anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, or depression. This situation is referred to as dual diagnosis. There are addiction treatment centers that specialize in dual diagnosis, taking care to treat both the disorder and the addiction appropriately. If taking medication for depression or anxiety every morning is going to make someone’s life easier and more enjoyable, then why not take it?  Taking medications as prescribed by doctors is a lot different than self medicating with alcohol and drugs to suppress feelings or avoid reality.  The purpose of treating a psychological disorder in an appropriate fashion is to make one’s reality better.Before people get sober, they are often irresponsible and don’t take good care of themselves.  The purpose of getting sober is to have a better quality of life.  If taking medication prescribed by a doctor can make the quality of sobriety better, then why not?

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