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Should I Avoid Over-the-Counter Medications?

Many legal medications can pose a risk to our sobriety. Prescription and over-the-counter medications are second only to marijuana as the most commonly abused drugs in the U.S. Some legal medications, even if taken as directed, can cause us to develop cravings for other drugs, or lead us into a situation where we are abusing our medication.

In recovery, we have made the decision not to take mind or mood-altering chemicals. However, there is a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. We must look at our motivation for taking the medication. For example, if we are sick and take cough medicine only to relieve our symptoms, there is a potential for it to alter our mind in a way that could be a potential risk to our sobriety. Many cough medications contain alcohol or dextromethorphan, a highly abusable chemical. We should do our best to avoid these if possible. However, improving our health and well-being was a major factor in our decision to achieve sobriety, so we cannot sacrifice our health by avoiding medications. We should consult with a doctor whether the medication is necessary, and if so, we must be sure to take it only as directed to minimize our risk of potential abuse. We should also be mindful of the potential consequences of taking cold or allergy medicine. Many of these medications cause mood-altering or sedating effects, and could lead us toward abuse.

Many men and women in recovery believe they have a “physical allergy” to drugs and alcohol. This allergy is defined by their reaction to and inability to control their use of a particular substance. We can easily trigger this physical allergy to some extent by ingesting mind or mood-altering chemicals even if they are not our drug of choice. For example, the sedating effects of an antihistamine could cause a recovering heroin addict to recall the sedating effects of heroin and begin having cravings and thoughts of using opioids. We must remain vigilant if we are to take over-the-counter medications—we examine our motives, consult a doctor, and speak to a trusted friend in recovery about the issue to come to the best possible decision.

Life in active addiction is no way to live. If you are struggling or care for someone who is struggling with addiction, you know that life can be better. It’s time to live. Ready? Set- GO. Resilient House cultivates the resilience necessary to those in recovery for lasting wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Bringing together the best in clinical and holistic expertise, our full continuum of care is designed to help you change your life for good. Call us today for information: 833-CHANGE1