The fear of relapse is a constant and real fear of mine. I fear that I will just give in and be over taken by the beast of addiction again. Part of that fear comes from the high value I have placed on my sobriety. Placing a value on my sobriety didn’t come over night, rather I’ve been developing it over the past 6 years navigating through some stumbles and victories along the way. I’m realizing that I am worth more than any feeling a drug can give me and that I love the people around me more than any companionship a drug wants to offer. One day, the realization that having to take a controlled substance maybe a possibility. I became obsessed with the “what if” scenarios of having to take a controlled substance. So, with all that said, almost 2 years ago I decided to have gastric bypass done because I wanted to be the best version of myself. After many conversations with my accountability partners, family, and my surgeon we came up with a game plan. Then just recently I had to have all four of my wisdom teeth surgically removed. Once again, I sat down with my accountability partners and my surgeon to come up with a game plan that would work best for my situation. My experiences so far got me thinking surely, I’m not the only person going through these same situations. So, I wanted to share some of the pointers I’ve learned along the way to help maintain your sobriety when controlled medication is needed.
The first thing is you need to have a strong accountability system set up and in place. My accountability is my pastor, my therapist, my parents, and my fiancé. This accountability needs to be people who will ask the hard questions and be the people who are there to help you maintain your sobriety. Communication with your accountability is crucial. Let them know how you’re feeling. Letting them know you’re struggling is ok! I’ve had to learn this the hard way. I was so afraid to tell them I was struggling with the overwhelming thoughts that seems to dominate my thinking some days. These are the same people who I’ve learned to not get upset when they ask me if I’m ok or will you go pee in this cup we just want to make sure you’re ok. Your accountability needs to be involved with whatever medical procedure you may have to have or even just your routine doctor’s visits. I never held onto the pain medication given to me after my procedures. I had already arranged for my mom or fiancé to get the prescription filled and to hold onto the medication for me. They would also give me the medication when needed and never told me where they had locked up the medication. I would suggest placing your accountability on your HIPPA or consent form at your doctor’s office, hospital, and pharmacy. Give them the permission to see your medical file and to be involved with your health care. Also, take them with you to your doctor visits. At first when I would take my mom or fiancé with me to doctor’s appointment I felt so embarrassed and like a child, but once the doctors and nurses realized why they were there the feelings of embarrassment turned into empowerment. I know that may seem ridiculous and an invasion of your privacy but it will give you the freedom from and the ability to share the burden. There is freedom with being open and honest with your accountability team.
Secondly, be open and honest with your medical professionals. When I first got out of rehab I was timid to tell the doctors that I am in recovery because I was afraid they would judge me or treat me different. I can honestly say that every time I’ve been open and honest with medical professionals about my recovery, they thanked me for telling them and congratulated me for my sobriety. I came to the realization that I’m not the only person in recovery and that most medical professionals are here to help. Collaborating with your medical professionals, a more comprehensive treatment plan can be tailored to fit your needs as an individual in recovery. When it came time for my procedures I had already arranged with the doctor to give any prescriptions to my mom or my fiancé and to never give them to me. If you happen to have medication left over I would suggest getting it out of your house. Having that medication around is just an unnecessary temptation you don’t need to have in your recovery. Your local pharmacist and pharmacies are part of your medical team and you can take your unused medication to them and they can discard the medication in a safe and secure manner.
Thirdly, talk with your recovery group, mental health therapist, or accountability about any triggers or urges you may have had as a result of having to take a controlled medication. Prior to my wisdom teeth removal, I had set up a time before and after with my therapist to discuss what kind of thoughts I may be having or if there are any triggers as a result of taking the medication. Many thoughts seemed to roll around in my head, thoughts like “what if I take this medication and it causes me to relapse”, “I wonder what kind of pain medicine they’re going to give me”, “why did the pharmaceutical company change the color of the pill”. I shared those thoughts and feelings with my therapist and accountability team prior to and after my procedures. Sharing my thoughts and feelings with my therapist and accountability team, goes back to the open and honest line of communication. Open and honest communication takes time, patience, and practice. The lifestyle I lived prior to sobriety was filled with lies, deception, and manipulation, so it takes some time and patience with all parties involved to develop a healthy line of communication. Remember, you are not alone in this fight and you are worth fighting for!
In Loving Arms,