When it comes to overcoming an addiction to drugs or alcohol, abstinence is usually the key. It is important to avoid mood-altering substances going forward if you want to keep your sobriety on track, but there are times when this may be unavoidable such as when you are ill or when you need dental work. So, what can you do to ensure you stay safe at these times?

Safe Medication

If you are involved in a serious accident, become gravely ill, or require surgery, you may need certain medication that would otherwise be deemed unsuitable to someone in adiction recovery. The fear is that this could put your sobriety at risk, so you need to be careful if possible.

If you are about to have a surgical procedure, it would be wise to find out what type of medication doctors plan to use. Speak to the surgeon or anaesthetist if possible and explain that you are in recovery for addiction and that there are certain medications you should not have. Ask about any safer medications that may be effective for you.

Avoiding Relapse

There will be times where non-drug pain relief will not be sufficient, and you may require medication that you should normally avoid. In these instances, you do not have to succumb to a full-blown relapse if you are careful and take precautions.

Before your surgery, you should speak to your sponsor and explain the situation. Ask for advice about what you can do to protect yourself from relapse. It may be the case that you will have to increase certain recovery activities once more. This may mean going to more meetings or arranging to speak to your sponsor on a daily basis.

Steps to Take

Some recovering addicts will look at non-drug methods to use before being put to sleep for a surgical procedure so that they can avoid pre-op drugs such as sedatives. This may include meditation or even hypnosis; acupuncture is also an option.

Ask your care team to ensure that if you do have to take medication, that it be a different class of drug from the one that you used to rely on. It is also important that you only take medication if the risk of not taking it outweighs the risk of relapse.

Make a point of only taking medication within the hospital if possible and avoid taking any medication or prescriptions for medication home with you. Ask if there is a non-mood-altering drug that you could take instead, such as ibuprofen.

Try to use your non-drug pain relief methods after surgery too, as these will help you to stay away from any dangerous medications that could threaten your addiction recovery. However, if you do need medication when you are at home, make sure you are not in charge of administering it. Have your non-addicted spouse or another member of your family take charge of your pills and keep them safe and hidden from you when they are not required. Leftover medication should always be carefully disposed of.

Staying Safe at the Dentist

Dental hygiene is often neglected by those with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, so once in recovery, you may find you have to visit your dentist quite a lot in order to improve your oral health. It is important that you take care here because there is a similar risk that you may be provided with strong medication for dental pain if you do not explain your situation to the dentist.

Make sure he or she is aware that you are in recovery and that there are certain medications you need to avoid if possible. It is also a good idea to avoid the mouthwash there if it contains alcohol. Bring your own if you are worried.