Once you’ve gotten sober, it is important to maintain a healthy level of respect for your addiction or alcoholism. We need to remember that while we may recover, we will never be completely cured. The maintenance of sobriety is dependent on consistent and regular action in a program of recovery such as AA or NA, and working towards progress in ourselves while building reliance on a higher power. That being said, certain situations arise that are not preventable, and raise questions for many people in recovery.
One such question is how to handle taking opiates or narcotic medications following an injury or surgery. It is important to note that overall, YOU need to be comfortable with how this is handled, and you should listen to your doctor’s recommendations. You should be 100% honest with your doctor about your history with substance abuse or alcoholism, and your doctor should take this information into account when making any recommendations or prescriptions. Together with your doctor, you can come up with a plan for healing and physical recovery that both of you will be comfortable with. Of course, the final decision is still going to be up to you. Depending on personal reasons, people in recovery handle this issue in a number of ways.
Some will completely decline any strong prescription drugs, even following a major surgery, and make do with Ibuprofen. However, depending on the severity of the surgery, this is not recommended by medical professionals, as the body needs to be given a chance to rest and heal. But, many consider the risk involved to be unnecessary, and choose to walk through the pain.
Asking for Help
If you and your doctor decide that some amount of medication is necessary for a period of time, the best way to handle this is to have a close friend or family member hold the medication for you and administer it as recommended by the label. This prevents any temptation to take more than is prescribed, or to create a situation that may jeopardize your sobriety. Further, it is important to be honest with your sponsor, and with your recovery network, about how you are feeling. The sensation of being “on something”, even after an extended period of time in sobriety, can trigger cravings or create a strong sense of discomfort, and it helps to share these feelings with people who understand and have been through it themselves.
The bottom line is, life happens. If a situation comes up where you are faced with the possibility of needing narcotic medications, the best thing you can do is follow medical advice if you have been honest with your doctor. Further, there are ways to do so responsibly and within reason, if you are willing to ask for help from those around you. Be honest with yourself, be honest with your doctor, and be honest with your sponsor, and your sobriety can remain intact through any such situation.
If you or someone you know is struggling with prescription medication addiction, call 1-800-203-2024 for information on detox and inpatient treatment at Serenity Acres Treatment Center.