The process of being drug-free from a substance addiction takes much diligence and time. Relapse is possible, and because of triggers and temptations, many people end up addicted again. Complete abstinence from drugs and alcohol is promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous for the best chance at sobriety.
Advocates for being completely drug-free from drugs and alcohol state that the risk of relapse is much greater among those who even occasionally use drugs or alcohol during recovery. Recovering alcoholics are encouraged to never taste alcohol again, because the substance can so easily drag a person back into addiction. However, many people don’t know that even things like over-the-counter medications can sabotage a person’s recovery because they may contain ingredients like alcohol.
Someone in recovery who is in need of an over-the-counter medication for pain or cold relief should consult their treatment professional or doctor first. These medications are often considered safe for all users, but for someone recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction, everything needs to be looked at more closely. Mouthwashes and cough medicines often contain alcohol, which can lead to abuse and relapse. Sleep aids and cold medicines are often abused by drug addicts and can lead to relapse for someone in recovery. A doctor or pharmacist can help determine if an over-the-counter medication is safe for someone in recovery.
A person in recovery for drug or alcohol addiction should also be careful of the prescription medications they are taking. The best way to do this is to be up-front with the doctor prescribing the medications, so that he or she can avoid prescribing medications that might lead to relapse. There are times, even during a person’s recovery, when they might need prescription pain medications or anti-depressants to manage certain conditions. The patient must be honest with their doctor about their addiction and recovery in order to avoid taking a medication that could interrupt their recovery. Together, the patient, the doctor, and the treatment professional can come up with a plan to get the patient the help they need, without negatively interfering with their recovery.