Interested in starting your healing journey? Speak with an admissions counselor now
We're Hiring!
Apply for Jobs Now

Can You Take Prescription Opioids in Recovery?

Before getting sober, you probably never thought twice about what you should do when you get hurt or have surgery requiring you to take pain medications afterward. You were probably excited to receive a legal prescription for opioids and eager to take them. But now that you are sober, you are most likely wondering whether you can even take prescription opioids when you need them.  

While using prescription opioids in recovery should never be taken lightly, sometimes it is necessary. Attempting to cope with a significant injury without help from pain medication could cause you to relapse anyway. However, there are some things you should take into consideration before accepting an opioid prescription from your doctor.

Is it Okay to Take Prescription Opioids in Recovery?

There are many instances where you may be faced with the difficult decision of whether to use prescription opioids in recovery. First, you could suffer from an accident that leaves you injured and in a significant amount of pain. On the other hand, you could undergo surgery or dental work that will cause you pain throughout the healing process.

It is okay to take prescription opioids in recovery if you need them. However, you should pay attention to how you are doing in recovery before agreeing to take the medication. Additionally, it is always good to try non-narcotic pain relievers first.

Things to Consider Before Using a Prescription Opioid in Recovery 

Taking prescription opioids in sobriety can be scary, especially if you are in early recovery. Because there is a risk associated with taking these drugs, there are a few things you should consider before you take opioid medications. 

Prior Addictions to Opioids

The first thing you should consider before taking prescription opioids is whether you were addicted to them previously. If you suffered from opioid addiction in the past, taking them again could cause more harm than good. 

Opioids, even at a prescribed dose, could reignite the cravings you dealt with early on in recovery during the detox stages. Additionally, taking prescription opioids after recovering from an addiction to this type of substance could lead you to begin abusing your prescription. As a result, you could end up relapsing on your medication. 

If you suffered from opioid addiction in the past, it might be better to try using non-narcotic pain relievers like ibuprofen or even muscle relaxants.

Length of Sobriety

As previously stated, taking prescription opioids in recovery could lead to a relapse if you aren’t careful. Because of this, you need to consider how long you have been sober. If you have only been sober for a couple of months, taking prescription opioids might not be the safest idea. 

During early recovery, you haven’t built up all of the relapse prevention tools necessary to take a narcotic medication. Additionally, you could still be dealing with cravings or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. In that case, taking an addictive medication could lead to an unnecessary relapse.

Current Mental Health Status

If you suffer from co-occurring disorders, you should consider how you are currently feeling in terms of your mental health. Taking any type of psychoactive drug during a tough emotional time could cause you to begin using the substances to self-medicate. As a result, you could resort back to your old ways of thinking and behavior, reigniting your addiction. 

If you are struggling with any of the following mental health symptoms, you should avoid taking prescription opioids unless absolutely necessary:

  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression 
  • Feelings of guilt or shame
  • Loneliness or isolation 
  • Insomnia 
  • Mania 
  • Delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations 
  • Symptoms of PTSD 
  • Frequent feelings of anger or rage 
  • Feelings of worthlessness or despair 
  • Trouble concentrating, thinking, remembering, or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide 

Struggling with mental health is difficult and taking a prescription opioid may only further your issues. Because of this, you should consider taking non-narcotic medications for pain when you are also dealing with mental distress.

How to Use Prescription Medications Safely While in Recovery

Taking prescription opioids while in recovery can be risky, however, sometimes it is necessary. When non-narcotic pain relievers are not sufficient enough for severe forms of pain, sometimes it is better to take opioid medications than allow yourself to suffer from the uncomfortable symptoms. If you do decide to take prescription opioids, you need to use them safely. 

To safely use prescription opioids, you should:

  • Notify your doctor about your substance abuse history
  • Have a loved one dispense the medications to you 
  • Notify your sponsor or sober supports 
  • Amp up your recovery maintenance techniques 
  • Notify your therapist or recovery coach 
  • Attend a few extra recovery meetings 

The most important part of using prescription opioids safely is having someone hold the prescription for you. This prevents you from having the ability to take more of the medication than you are prescribed and keeps you accountable for your sobriety.

Additionally, notifying your sponsor, therapist, or recovery coach provides you with a network of support that can check on your progress with the medication. 

Finding Help for Prescription Opioid Abuse 

If you or a loved one suffer from prescription opioid abuse, help is available. Abusing these medications can quickly lead to addiction, which puts you at an increased risk of experiencing an overdose. Because of this, professional treatment is necessary. 

Contact Mandala Healing Center today for more information on our opioid addiction treatment program