For a recovering addict, any type of substance can prove addictive because they have already shown an inability to exhibit self-control. People who are recovering from all types of addiction, whether it is alcohol, opiates or illegal drugs are told by specialists to stay away from all drugs in order to experience successful sobriety.
Any type of drug can potentially reactivate a person's addiction and lead to relapse even if it is prescribed by a doctor. That is why it can be a slippery slope when a recovering addict develops an illness or injury and requires surgery.
Typically in this situation a doctor would prescribe strong painkillers like Vicodin or Oxycontin to help the patient cope with the pain and recovery from surgery. But what happens when an addict is prescribed these drugs for their pain management? How can they avoid relapse and still receive the treatment they need for their physical health?
Preventing Relapse While Taking Prescription Drugs
While there are no simple answers to this problem, there are some guidelines that addicts can follow to get through their pain management without experiencing a relapse and return to their old habits. It is possible for an addict to get the necessary medical treatment after a surgery without being condemned to addiction to prescription pills.
The first step to take is to inform your doctor of your recovery and make sure they understand and take your addiction seriously. You should discuss your concerns about relapse to make sure that your doctor takes this into consideration when they prescribe your medication.
You can even ask that they consult an addiction expert that is trained to select drugs with the lowest addiction potential and cross tolerance with the drug you were previously addicted to. If you feel that your doctor is not taking your addiction seriously then you should consider switching to another physician that understands your situation.
Relying on Support for Recovery
Another way to help handle your addiction after surgery is to make sure you have someone else support you and monitor how much medication you are taking. Because any type of mood-altering drugs including opiate painkillers can reactivate addictive thinking, cravings and distort judgment it is necessary to keep dosage at a minimum.
There is a strong possibility that you will be tempted to take more of the drug than you are prescribed because you become addicted to its effects. Ask a friend that you trust to make sure that you are not taking too much medication and that you are following the guidelines of the doctor and addiction specialist.
If your drug seeking behavior is reactivated then you might try to manipulate the doctor into giving you more medication than you need. A friend who understands your addiction or is a part of your recovery program too will keep you grounded and prevent any abuse of your medication.
The best way to deal with any situation that could be dangerous for your addiction is to be prepared and have plenty of support. Before your surgery you can alert your sponsors, friends and family about what you are going to go through.
You can ask your support network to visit you in the hospital and while you are still taking the medication to make sure that you are not exhibiting any addictive behavior. Make sure to keep attending your twelve step meetings and counseling sessions throughout the time after your surgery.
Be open about any cravings, withdrawal symptoms or depression you might be experiencing while taking your medication. The help and advice you get from your support group can be crucial in getting you through the period following surgery.