Pink Cloud would like to preface this post by saying that we are certainly not medical professionals.
It’s not uncommon for alcoholics to have what is known as a “dual diagnosis.” A dual diagnosis refers to not only suffering from alcoholism but also additional mental health issues. These could be things like depression, bipolar, anxiety and a whole host of other conditions. And because of those conditions, there are very real and solid reasons that someone might need to take medication. There are, however, some people who believe that taking something like an antidepressant means that one is not sober. Remember that this is only that person’s opinion. And remember that your treatment for whatever you’re going through is between you and your doctor. With some considerations.
As we know alcoholics tend to run a little far down the field with things. Let’s dial it back a bit. The above paragraph is not a license to throw anything down your gullet that your doctor tells you to. From our experience, taking medication is not a black or white thing. For instance, if your doctor told you that you should be taking 100mg of Oxycontin to treat some arthritis in your toe that might warrant some further investigation. However, 20mg of Zoloft to battle some depression while you get things sorted out? Now that’s a different story. Like we said, we are not doctors. These are just examples. What we are trying to shed light on here is that like many other decisions in sobriety it’s important to get some perspective.
Another important consideration here is that your doctor knows that you are sober. You’d be surprised at how many people say something like “the doctor prescribed me this” to their sponsor. And the sponsor will say “did you tell him that you’re an addict in recovery.” “Well,” the person says, “no that thought never crossed my mind.” The doctor needs to know your history. And even then some doctors still won’t get it. They’ll be like, “Recovering addict? No problem. Here, have some opiates.” Unfortunately, proper education about recovery and addiction is not there for most doctors yet.
Also, try to think about these questions. Is taking this medication making my life unmanageable? Could I live without it? Am I trying to hide the fact that I take this medication? Do I take the regular dose? Or, do I sometimes take more than is recommended? Real, honest answers to these questions will help you understand if you’re approaching your treatment with the right mindset.
So, that crusty old-timer told you you’re not sober? That’s fine. How about maybe getting some feedback from your sponsor and some other friends in the program about how they’ve dealt with taking medication while staying sober. Just because that one guy sees it as an all or nothing thing doesn’t mean that everyone else does.
Remember that the important thing here is not being completely pure and perfect. Hey, if we used that logic we could easily start saying no coffee at meetings. It has caffeine in it. Perish the thought. And what about the people smoking cigarettes and vaping? Couldn’t we say that they’re using mind altering drugs. You can see how it gets a little murky.
So, use your best judgment. Talk with professionals. Talk to your sponsor. Talk to trusted friends in the program who have been there and have similar experiences. The most important thing is that you don’t pick up a drink or a drug one day at a time.