Addiction recovery programs help substance abusers overcome their addictions by getting them to abstain from misusing drugs, including prescription painkillers. In some situations, however, recovering addicts have a legitimate need for medication to reduce pain from chronic illnesses, surgery, or acute injury, or medication for mental health issues.
Physicians must walk a fine line in this situation, ensuring that the recovering addicts get the treatment they need without contributing to the person’s addiction.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), about 52 million Americans aged 12 and older –20 percent of the population – have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons at some point in their lives. The Foundation for a Drug-Free World estimates about 15 million people regularly abuse prescription drugs.
As with the abuse of illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine, prescription drug use can have serious negative consequences for addicts. Prescription drugs can alter moods and behaviors, causing harm to relationships between friends and family members. They can cloud judgment and impair thinking, resulting in bad personal and professional decisions. Prescription drug abuse can also get addicts in trouble with the law for actions such as driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, and other criminal offenses.
There are a variety of reasons prescription drug abuse is on the rise—among them, the sheer availability of these drugs today. More medications are on the market than ever before, and doctors are also writing more prescriptions than ever.
Between 2013 and 2017, the number of prescriptions filled in the U.S. grew from 4.24 billion to 4.62 billion. Experts predict that number will continue to rise, hitting 5.13 billion in 2022.
Many addicts are taking advantage of poorly-supervised overseas pharmacies, placing online orders for prescription drugs that they’d have a tougher time obtaining from brick-and-mortar U.S. pharmacies.
Unfortunately, some patients who are prescribed medications for legitimate purposes become addicted to them and begin misusing them. This makes treatment difficult for doctors, who must balance the need to relieve patients’ pain with the risk of drug dependency.
Managing Medication for Addicts
The NCBI estimates that about 5 percent to 17 percent of the U.S. population has some kind of substance abuse. Unfortunately, these patients often don’t receive adequate pain management when they’re injured or dealing with a chronic pain issue that warrants use of prescription pain drugs, as they and their doctors are wary of compromising their recovery.
When prescribing pain relievers or psychotropic drugs to recovering addicts, the following best practices can minimize the risk of causing a relapse into addiction:
Tips for Patients
It’s not just the doctor’s responsibility to ensure that recovering substance abusers avoid relapsing when pain or other potentially addictive medication is prescribed. Recovering addicts also have a responsibility to ensure they do not fall back into bad habits.
The following tips can help recovering addicts ensure they do not relapse if they must take potentially addictive drugs in the course of medical treatment.
By taking ownership of your recovery and acting to ensure that you don’t relapse, you increase your chances of being able to safely take medication as prescribed by a doctor. With collaboration among physicians, patients, families, and addiction recovery program specialists, recovering addicts can safely make use of pain medication and psychotropic drugs while minimizing the risk of relapse.
Within the recovery community, there is some debate concerning whether recovering addicts who have been prescribed medicine for pain or psychological disorders are truly “sober.” It’s a legitimate debate, and there are strong opinions on both sides.
Some medical situations do require pain or psychotropic medication. Under a doctor’s care and close supervision, and when the need is dire, the legitimate use of pain or other medication should be an option for recovering addicts. Addicts and their physicians need to remain committed to recovery, and use of the medications should end as soon as the legitimate medical reason for their use is resolved.
RECO Intensive is a South Florida rehab program providing specialized solutions for men and women seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. RECO Intensive provides both residential care and an intensive outpatient program to help get individuals on the road to recovery. Whether you’re searching for a rehab program for yourself or a loved one, contact RECO Intensive today to find out more about our comprehensive alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs.
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