Is It Okay to Take Psychiatric Medication While I’m in Recovery?

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Dual Diagnosis

Addiction is a mental health issue, and unfortunately, it often comes paired with other mental health issues. If you have any kind of addiction paired with any other mental illness, then you have something called a dual diagnosis, and your treatment should address both issues. Some of the more common illnesses that come with addiction are listed below:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • PTSD
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder

With the right care from a doctor, a person with any of these conditions can benefit from psychiatric medication.

Why Medication Is Important

When addiction and other mental illnesses coexist, they often make each other worse. Think about depression, for example. Many people with depression use alcohol to make themselves feel better. However, since alcohol is a depressant, it ultimately makes people with depression feel worse. As a result, many abuse even more alcohol, which starts a dangerous cycle. Since addiction and mental illness are so closely tied to one another, it’s best to treat them at the same time, not one after another. This is where medication comes in.

25% of adults with mental illness also have a substance use disorder.

It’s important to realize that mental illness isn’t just about the way you feel. Mental illnesses come from real, physical changes in the brain. Medication is one of the best ways to treat those physical changes. Most mental illnesses are caused by the way the brain produces and reacts to certain chemicals. Too little or too much of some brain chemicals can cause extreme mood changes. If your brain has a chemical imbalance, medication can help your brain regain balance so that you can feel better.

If you struggle with addiction, with or without another illness, call 800-492-QUIT.

What Medications Should I Avoid?

As mentioned above, most mental health medication is non-addictive and won’t cause cravings. You should have no addiction-related problems taking an antidepressant or mood stabilizer. Of course, you should always keep your doctor updated on your progress, but these drugs shouldn’t hurt your recovery.

However, there is one class of psychiatric drugs that you should avoid: benzodiazepines. Some of the more common benzodiazepines are listed here:

  • Valium
  • Xanax
  • Klonopin
  • Ativan

Doctors sometimes prescribe these drugs for anxiety and panic. Unlike other psychiatric drugs, however, benzodiazepines were not designed to be a long-term treatment. Instead, they’re meant to be taken as a short-term solution to emergency situations. They are highly addictive, and if you already struggle with addiction, you have even more risk of misusing them.

If you have anxiety and a substance use disorder, you do still have some medication options. Many of the daily medications that help with depression also help with anxiety. Talk to your doctor about your options, and make sure that he or she knows about your struggles with addiction before writing a prescription for you

Other Forms of Treatment

Psychiatric medications can take up to six weeks for you to feel the full impact, although you may notice some difference within two weeks. In the meantime, you should continue with other forms of treatment in addition to your medication. If you haven’t already been through detox and rehab, you should take those steps as soon as possible. After rehab, you should consider seeing a counselor or therapist on a regular basis. Group therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are highly effective options for people with a dual diagnosis. You might also consider attending a support group like Dual Diagnosis Anonymous or SMART Recovery. Having a community can make an enormous difference in mental illness and recovery.

Still Seeking Treatment?

If you haven’t started your treatment yet, it’s a good idea to begin with detox and rehab. We can help you find a place to start.

At Rehab Info, we can listen to your situation

and recommend rehab facilities that specialize in dual diagnosis. Start by calling 800-492-QUIT today.
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