In treatment and in a practice of recovery, we are able to heal from our substance use disorder; but our bodies and minds are still subject to other issues. While the medical and psychiatric worlds grow more informed about the nature of substance use and how it relates to other illnesses, it can still be challenging to navigate the world of medication. Ultimately, you should trust your doctor or consider changing providers if you don’t feel as if you can openly discuss your options with them. Open lines of communication are vital to helping you care for your well-being. There are times when you will need to advocate for yourself when it comes to your medical treatment in recovery. How can you find the balance between doctor’s orders and your boundaries?
Where the Risk Exists
Not only are those with substance use disorders as likely as anyone to be afflicted with health issues, in some cases the type of substances we used or the duration we used them for can lead to additional challenges. There are certain physical and mental health issues that are treated with medications that carry the risk of misuse and it’s important to be aware of anything that might be prescribed that poses a risk.
- Pain management – Pain is likely the most notable and common problem treated by medications with the potential for misuse. Opioid painkillers were previously commonly prescribed for everything from a twisted ankle to post-surgical pain. As the wide-spread effects of dependence on the medications have led to a public health crisis, the medical community has made significant changes to their administration. However, they are still prescribed in a number of different forms for the treatment of significant pain.
- Mental health disorders – From medications to ease the difficult effects of anxiety to ones that help bring about focus for those with attention deficit disorders, there are thousands of different types of medications that assist with the treatment of mental health disorders. While there are many of these that have no potential for dependence, there are some that do carry the risk, such as benzodiazepines, stimulants, and barbiturates.
- Miscellaneous – There are a number of medications used to treat conditions such as insomnia that have sedating effects and can be misused. In addition to these, there are many other miscellaneous medications that carry a lesser risk but should still be taken with care, such as certain steroid treatments, medications that work on the central nervous system, and even some anti-depressants.
Self-Advocating While Staying Safe
Medical professionals help determine the best course of treatment for any given affliction based on a wide range of factors, such as symptoms, health history, medical test results, and risk factors. We should feel confident that our doctors will consider all of these while working with us to treat our health issues. It’s important that you open lines of communication and practice honesty in your interactions with your doctor, making sure they are aware of a past substance use disorder. Often, this can be added to your medical chart in order to make sure that any doctor within a practice that may be seen is aware of the risk factor it presents and take it into consideration when choosing a treatment plan. It’s also important to make a verbal note of it anytime you’re seeing a medical professional, even if you’ve asked for your chart to be updated with that information. Taking ownership and making sure this fact about your health is communicated is the first step in advocating for medical care that does not conflict. If you encounter a medical professional that continues to suggest medications you do not feel safe taking, despite informing them that you’re in recovery and wish for different options, be sure you see a new practitioner or get a second opinion. Seek doctors you can work in harmony with to ensure your continued recovery.
Being informed about a medication before you choose to take it is another important part of self-advocating. Even some over-the-counter medicines have the potential for misuse, so there should be a measure of caution in every choice about what you take. It’s acceptable to pause after a doctor makes a recommendation for a medication in order to research the nature of it and its side-effects. You can also utilize the pharmacist, choosing to ask questions about the effects of a medication, rather than simply accepting the consult. If you make the determination that a certain prescription carries too much risk, you can ask for different treatment options.
There may be occasions where a medication that carries risk is the best or only course of action. In these types of scenarios, it’s necessary to have a team of people helping you to best ensure your safety. Work alongside a doctor that has been informed of your past substance use, a support network such as a sponsor, or friends and family that can help keep you accountable. Advocate for yourself by planning ahead, in any of these situations. attend appointments ready to make your doctor aware, be prepared with questions about treatment options, and ask those in your network to support you and keep you accountable.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction. We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at 800-799-4673.