Is Prescription Drug Addiction Acceptable In Dual Diagnosis Programs?

Some people might come into recovery by way of their prescription drug addiction and see others taking meds as part of a dual diagnosis program, and think, “Why can they, and why can’t I?”

It is a perfectly legitimate question. Why is it that some addicts and alcoholics can take prescription meds without calling it a relapse, but others cannot?

In traditional 12-Step recovery, Tradition Ten states that, “we have no opinion on outside issues.” Prescription drugs are one such area that lies outside of recovery.

Occasionally, some people in recovery will have a negative view of prescription drugs being used by others in recovery. However, there are two problems with this:

  • It is none of their business;
  • The overwhelming majority of those expressing negative views are not doctors, and, therefore, lack the expertise needed to understand what these medications do for the people who take them.

We can understand the concern, though. If staying on the medications when the addict or alcoholic knows deep within that they are unnecessary, and that they are taking the meds strictly for the effects and not so that they can function in society, then red flags begin to go up.

The thing is, there are a lot of people who do not fall in that category. For those who cannot go off their meds without risking catastrophic consequences, there is really no other option. Even if their primary drug of choice was Vicodin (for example), if they need a dual diagnosis program to get clean and sober, their prescription drug addiction does nothing to change the fact that such a program is needed.

Prescription drug addiction is not worth the risk

Even for those who are unsure whether or not they can do without the meds, taking the risk of going off them might not be worth it. As the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

When prescription drug addiction starts to become an excuse for not taking meds, then there is a problem. Not taking meds out of fear that one might get addicted (especially when they already have drug problems) is a hypocrisy that actually makes sense to an addict or alcoholic. If it was logically sound, though, then wouldn’t we avoid drinking alcohol, then, too? God knows we would never do that, though!

Many addicts use the reasoning, “I was prescribed weed by a doctor for my depression, and therefore it is okay.” Really, if we made some simple lifestyle changes, there is a high likelihood that the depression would vanish, and smoking weed would not only not be necessary, but it wouldn’t contribute to the depression either.

When there is an option for the addict or alcoholic to take a non-intoxicating medication to remedy an ailment, that should always be the first choice. Admittedly, though, that is not always the case. Advil probably won’t be enough to get someone through a shattered femur. Only the addict/alcoholic and a trained physician with a knowledge of the patient’s history with drug and/or alcohol abuse should make the final call, though.

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