Medications & Recovery




AA put out a pamphlet on medications & recovery.  In a nutshell it’s easy to anticipate AA’s stance if you have read the Big Book. Listen to your doctor, doctors are good, we members are not physicians etc.  Or rather a group of AA’s members and their stance on taking medications while in recovery.   There are many drug-addict/alcoholics in AA who have medicinal needs whether it me psychological meds or pain meds.  It seems to me that the recovering alcohol-addicts who wrote the AA pamphlet do not have a well-rounded view of doctors and their common practices.  CLEARLY BY MY OWN EXPERIENCE AND THOSE CLOSE TO ME DOCTORS DO NOT ALWAYS HAVE THE PATIENTS WELL BEING AT HEART.  How can they help no promoting drugs that they are getting kick-backs from the drug company for…and it’s completely legal.

The AA pamphlet called, “THE AA MEMBER: MEDICATIONS & OTHER DRUGS” which, mind you is full of good advice, excuse me “suggestions”….well, under certain circumstances  it would be good advice.  Unless of coarse, your doctor is harboring a century old resentment toward his alcoholic & addict parents for instance…not such a good idea to spill your wide-eyed confession out onto the highly toxic floor.   Then there’s the doctor who goes right to treating the symptoms, the hell with healings & causes!   He applies drugs no matter what the ailment in spite of what his (perceived) feeble-minded patient informs him of.  What does a patient know after all?  Uneducated and below his own social status.  This kind of doctor will object to any curtailing of his normal methods of doctoring.  This kind of doc seldom listens to any patient.

Really?  Does everybody just automatically take the doctors prognosis as gospel?  Seems like the people I have heard share in AA on this topic have absolutely no inclination what-so-ever to question a doctor’s advice….I find that odd.   I have repeatedly heard physicians painted as all-knowing saints who should never be questioned by the lowly and  conniving alcoholic.  In my subconscious I am wondering what’s behind that kind of blind faith in any human being.  

And just to stray off topic a bit…assuming that every addict lied and cheated his way into his oh-so-successful addiction is an assumption that reveals the character of he who assumes.  Everybody lies at one time or another, yes.  But not everyone stooped to a standard level of “if they’re mouth is moving they are lying” I came from the school of “honor among thieves”.    But oh_________ how some people love to brag in a packed meeting about their “stealing your dope and then helping you look for it.”     It’s only a fifth step confession by the way if your feeling at least a little guilty about it.   Boasting is a whole other matter folks categorized under the flaw of false-pride.  “false” because it isn’t the good “pride” in a hard worked job well done.  This boasting (hypothetical but common member) is a prideful balloon of ego ready to pop wide open at revealing his next villainous act.   Sorry..back to the meds!

Truly writers of this pamphlet and the Big Book obviously haven’t been watching the commercials that inform us about the many lawsuits over hanus prescription drugs advertised by lawyers everywhere.  Nor are they taking into account the kickbacks that doctors get for prescribing certain harmful and questionable, newly developed drugs.  Don’t get me wrong like I said “good advice” but only under the circumstance that you have a truly good man or woman as a doctor.  What are the odds?

We must as addicts in recovery find our own boundaries where meds are concerned and this is not an easy task it will take time and counsel.  We cannot depend on our doctors in many cases for the best “next right thing” to do.  We must be true to ourselves where meds are concerned and find the perfect balance that lies somewhere between martyr and dope fiend because both are self-destructive.  Martyr being the man who suffers so badly with a physical or emotional ailment that he is continually miserable in sobriety.  Yet he refuses all and any help from the doctor because of his NA counterparts that deem such consumptions a relapse.  At some point we should as people learn to let ourselves off the hook and not be so rigid with ourselves and others.  At the same time we don’t want to become so lax that we are not connected to what fulfills us.

Abstinence from prescriptions is not always best in fact it can be dangerous.  Many if not most people in AA are on anti-depressants.  Anti-depressants will most likely quit working at some point.  Doctors have to continually switch people around from drug to drug, change dosages, and try different combinations.  Whatever works.  And hey I mean that it’s not for me to judge.  Next there’s the pain issue.  If you’re a narcotics addict and pain drugs are your drug of choice best draw the line at surgery.  Especially early on in recovery.  Meaning don’t take them unless you have severe pain.  There are drugs like “Buprenorphine” that are non-narcotic yet very strong.  There is allot of controversy about this drug.  And if you are in Narcotics Anonymous good luck with finding a sponsor who won’t dub you “still using”.  If  this is the case, hey there are lots of addicts in Alcoholics Anonymous, “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.”  If you are in AA and are not abusing your Buprenorphine then you are sober.  

The addict mind prior to a psychic change better yet a total mental transformation is incapable of thinking like a normal person regarding drugs therefore if you have to have surgery in your first five years or so don’t expect to not hear the voices of obsession in your head when you bring home those Percocet for post-operative pain.  You can take them as directed but most likely they will talk to you in between doses…they did me.  That doesn’t mean I relapsed it meant I was triggered by them.  A thought does not constitute a relapse.  I was going by the book with my meds and doing the right thing while at the same time the addict in me had her voice as well.  Things are not always just one way they can be both.

More about suboxone & methadone.  Well if an addict gets on these drugs early on and uses them temporarily to “adjust” emotionally to sobriety that could be a good thing if there is a gradual and complete reduction.  I have seen these drugs help people transition into sobriety slowly and successfully.  I know some people who started with methadone, switched to suboxone, weened off that  and have been sober a very long time.  They got off both drugs within a year.  Keep in mind that these success stories also include doing allot of step work, getting a sponsor, having therapy, going to many meetings, opening up to people and making new friends in AA.  

If my friends had stayed on those drugs past say a year chances are they would not have worked through their emotional underlying issues…YOU HAVE TO FEEL TO HEAL.  The drugs may work for a while to suppress painful emotions but when they stop working the addict will either honker down, work the 12 steps, get some therapy and start to really recover or they will just go up, up, up, on the dosage until other drugs like cocaine, alcohol etc, start to look like a solution. 

Remember if alcohol is only a symptom of a deeper problem then finding and alleviating that problem is the solution.  Usually that problem is grave emotional disorder.

The important thing is to learn how to live and work the steps often and at least when we need it and to establish an ongoing relationship with a Higher Power.  If drugs interfere with that process or cause unmanageability then that constitutes a slip.  If a psychic change doesn’t take place “the same man will drink again”.  People who get on pain meds which cause no unmanageability have not relapsed…. have they?   Again you have to feel to heal.

My advice no suggestion  (if you’re new to AA the word “advice” is extremely and politically incorrect)…anyway, if you have a serious pain issue say you broke your leg or severed a limb personally I wouldn’t tell the doc at the ER “I am an addict” you’re liable to go home with a bottle of aspirin.  Seriously most doctors are either all in or all out when they hear the word “addict”.  Either they will prescribe when it’s unwarranted or they won’t prescribe when it’s truly needed in spite of the label you are wearing.  

It’s a matter of throwing the dice.   I have had it go both ways.  My pain doctor knows my story and he has asked me lots of questions about recovery life, it interests him.  If I am in pain he works with me he is neither all in or all out he prescribes judging by the symptom and watches me for any evidence of what he calls “deviation” from recovery.  I have also had the opposite happen when I told one new doctor my history and was swiftly treated like I was an inmate in a prison by the meanest jail guard there.  With no logical explanation this doctor cut my seizure medication in half.  Not a good idea it could have killed me.  So prayer and common sense play into it.

Be sure to talk to someone about your medicinal situation if you have guilt feeling get them out.  We addicts oftentimes lay guilt trips on ourselves.  False guilt will eat us alive and there is always someone out there looking to validate how wrong you are.  By the same token there are emotional enablers a plenty.  Finding an emotionally  balanced confidant in any 12 step program is very important.  Addicts tend to swing to either one extreme or the other.  Therapy, the 12 steps, and spirituality WILL bring you emotional balance after a time…and two times.  Thank you so much for reading along.  If you are a writer submit your recovery articles to


• 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

• 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.