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Co-occurring Disorders FAQ

I've been told that because I'm addicted, I can't take any mood altering drugs. What about medications for my mental health problem?

The idea that addicted people can’t take psychiatric medications because they won't really be clean and sober is false and dangerous.

There is a big difference between alcohol, street drugs, and medications prescribed by a psychiatrist. It is typically not recommended that persons with co-occurring disorders take potentially addictive medications such as benzodiazapines or opiates (although that decision needs to be made on an individual basis).

Most psychiatric medication is not addictive. Taking it will not jeopardize your sobriety. In fact, taking the medication may help you remain free from alcohol and other drugs.

Think of it this way – if you are addicted to meth, and have schizophrenia, which makes you hear voices, are you better off continuing to hear those voices or better off taking a medication so you don’t hear the voices?

Which option would more likely lead to relapse?

If you find yourself being pressured to stop taking your psychiatric medication because someone thinks you're not clean and sober, provide that person with some education about the medication (you can get pamphlets and other information from your doctor).

If they continue to pressure you, consider whether he or she is really a supportive person in your overall recovery.