RX and Recovery

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A dear friend of mine called me and was very upset.  She had neck surgery and was prescribed pain medication.  She was told by some one she respects that she had relapsed and needed to change her sobriety date.  WTF… I talked her off the virtual sobriety cliff and said no one other than she and her doctor could make that call.

Wow.. what a hot topic!  Everyone has an opinion, and they differ dramatically.  So, below is the reference on the topic from AA and SMART.  Short version.. many in recovery are NOT doctors and years of sobriety do NOT make one knowledgeable enough to tell another what they need to take for medical purposes.  It is up to each of us to determine what is ok or not, whether or not we actually misuse or abuse RXs.

I read an interesting article that mentioned asking your doctor be familiar with the American Board of Addiction Medicine.  ABAM is the nation’s first medical specialty board that certifies addiction medicine physicians across a range of medical specialties. The board sets standards for physician education, assesses physicians’ knowledge and requires and tracks life-long education. It is an independent specialty board established in 2007.

12 Steps (AA)  policy:  Some A.A. members must take prescribed medication for serious medical problems. However, it is generally accepted that the misuse of prescription medication and other drugs can threaten the achievement and maintenance of sobriety. It may be possible to minimize the threat of relapse if the following suggestions are heeded:Image result for rx in sobriety images

  • • No A.A. member should “play doctor”; all medical advice and treatment should come from a qualified physician.
  • • Active participation in the A.A. program of recovery is a major safeguard against alcoholic relapse.
  • • Be completely honest with your doctor and yourself about the way you take your medicine. Let your doctor know if you skip doses or take more medicine than prescribed.
  • • Explain to your doctor that you no longer drink alcohol and you are trying a new way of life in recovery.
  • • Let your doctor know at once if you have a desire to take more medicine or if you have side effects that make you feel worse.
  • • Be sensitive to warnings about changes in your behavior when you start a new medication or when your dose is changed.
  • • If you feel that your doctor does not understand your problems, consider making an appointment with a physician who has experience in the treatment of alcoholism.
  • • Give your doctor copies of this pamphlet.


SMART Recovery:  Position on Medications:  SMART Recovery supports the scientifically informed use of psychological treatment and legally prescribed psychiatric and addiction medication.


Abstinence / moderation model:  for those with a personal program, you decide what you are ok with.. to thine own self be true.

Medications used for aversion therapy:  In the U.S., three drugs are specifically approved to treat alcohol dependence:

  • Naltrexone (ReVia, Vivitrol)
  • Acamprosate (Campral)
  • Disulfiram (Antabuse)

Naltrexone and acamprosate are categorized as anticraving drugs. Disulfiram is an aversion drug. Other types of medications, such as antidepressants, may also be used to treat patients with alcoholism.


2 thoughts on “RX and Recovery”

  1. I talked to a lady the other day who was feeling guilt over this. She has surgery and didn’t wait to take the pain meds. She felt guilty and did not want to give her sobriety up. I felt so bad for her but in the end we talked and she is taking the meds guilt free! 🙂

  2. Thank you, Furies for this great article. I did feel conflicted in taking prescribed meds for recovery from a surgery.

    Pain management is necessary to heal and recover. There’s so much research to support this now. People who don’t want pills and endure most pain will heal more slowly.

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