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Coping with Illness in Recovery

Everybody has to deal with illness at some point in their lives. In recovery, however, illness can override our decision-making abilities and cause us to seek relief in substances. When we are sick, we are often desperate for any form of relief that we can get, and this may distract us from the principles and activities suggested by our recovery program.

Any time we see a doctor, it is important that we be honest about our condition. Narcotics Anonymous, in their information pamphlet In Times of Illness, explain, “We have a right and responsibility to participate as an equal partner by informing our healthcare providers of our needs. It is vital to carefully consider all options presented to us. Professionals will have difficulty providing us with adequate care unless we are honest with them. We apply basic safeguards that will protect our recovery when we are seeing a medical professional; it is usually in our best interest to inform them that we are recovering addicts.” Doctors may want to prescribe mind or mood-altering substances which, while often perfectly safe for those who do not suffer from addiction, could cause us to fall into patterns of addictive behavior.

Prescription medications used to treat our illness can easily cause us to lose control over our ability to regulate how much medication we are taking. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Managing Chronic Pain in Adults with or in Recovery from Substance Use Disorders, “Because of cross-addiction, persons who abuse marijuana may be at increased risk for opioid addiction. People with alcohol use disorders have been found to be more than 18 times as likely to report nonmedical use of prescription medications as people who do not drink.”  While this loss of control is most pronounced in the use of chronic pain medications such as opioids, any form of mind or mood-altering substance can cause the same effects.

If we are facing an illness that requires the use of mind or mood-altering substances, it may be helpful to discuss the situation with our sponsor or friends in recovery. Narcotics Anonymous explains, “Our experience shows that we are especially vulnerable to our addiction when we are dealing with illness and injury. We consider asking for a limited supply of medication and we talk to our sponsor before filling a prescription for mind- or mood-altering medication.”

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction any longer. You can make the decision to seek help now and embark upon the rewarding journey of recovery. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers a Residential Treatment program that includes medically-supported detoxification, maintenance care, individual therapies, counseling (including family therapy), and plans to help clients build life skills that will help them after discharge. For information about Residential Treatment and other treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431