What to Do if Your Doctor Prescribes Painkillers When You’re in Recovery

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There may come a time during your recovery when a doctor writes you a prescription for pain medication. Maybe it’s a procedure that will make you feel uncomfortable for a few days. Or perhaps it’s an injury that’s making it difficult to sleep or function. Whatever the case, your doctor has recommended painkillers and you’re not sure what to do.

Prescription opioids for pain relief can be safe when taken short-term. But people in recovery need to take additional precautions to protect their sobriety. Depending on how long you’ve been in recovery, it’s possible that taking prescription painkillers can cause you to relapse.

Only you and your doctor can make the best decision for your health, but here are our recommendations on handling this issue.

Make sure your doctor is aware of your history.

Because prescription opioids can be safe when used as directed, doctors often prescribe them to treat acute pain. But make sure your doctor is aware of your history of addiction. They may have this information in your chart, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them of this.

Provide your doctor with as much information as possible about your past addiction, such as what you were addicted to and how long you’ve been in recovery. Someone who’s been in recovery for 10 years will probably get a different response than someone who just left drug rehab in Arizona.

Consider alternative treatment methods.

When your doctor is reminded of your past addiction, they may suggest alternative treatments. If they don’t, be sure to ask about them. In some cases, an over-the-counter pain reliever – aspirin, ibuprofen or acetaminophen – will be enough to manage your pain.

Other alternative treatments for pain include physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy and steroid injections. Some doctors may also prescribe an anti-seizure or antidepressant drug because they can treat pain without being addictive.

Educate yourself on the medication you’re taking.

If your doctor feels that an opioid pain medication is the best way to manage your pain, gather all the information you can. It’s possible for your doctor to find the right medication and dosage to manage your pain without undermining your recovery.

Some questions to ask your doctor include:

  • What type of medication are you prescribing?
  • How and when should I take it?
  • Is the medication habit forming?
  • What types of side effects can I expect?

Know when and where to get help.

After weighing all of your options, you can move forward with the right treatment approach for your pain. But because of your history, it’s important to know where to get help if you feel triggered.

Wolf Creek Recovery is a treatment center in Arizona that provides comprehensive treatment services. Our flexible program allows us to “meet” our clients where they are. If a recent injury, illness or procedure has made you feel like you need additional support to maintain your recovery, contact Wolf Creek Recovery today.