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Old 01-14-2010, 06:37 AM
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Recovery and Meds

Hello all. Let me start out by saying I am not seeking medical advice, but just opinions on med usage during recovery. I am just about 70 days sober. Wow, can't believe I wrote that. It's been quite a ride and loving it. To my point however, I sat with my sponsor the other day and brought up the fact that I am on quite a few meds. Most notably, cymbalta which is an anti-depressant.

During our discussion, he was mentioning that he does not believe in the use of medicines during recovery unless there is a medical diagnoses. I was not prescribed this med for depression, but for anxiety which I knew was from my drinking but initially did not fill my Dr. in to that fact. I have always been a person who gets irritated quite easily, although not violently.

Skipping forward, since being on this med and not drinking (giving it a chance to actually work) I have mellowed quite a bit and I like the results. Now I have thought in the past as my sponsor stated, I will not be able to experience the low lows, or high highs, in essence raising the bottom and lowering the top (experiencing life on life terms). He believes this will hamper my ability to have conscience contact with God, making me have an "I don't care attitude". I will say I have also thought of this as well. He also stated that his belief is based on others he is sponsoring and there inability to remain sober because they are on meds. I think this is being rather judgmental, but maybe his experience has shown him differently. He seems to be stating this as fact, rather than opinion as he is not a doctor. To end this, what are some opinions on this as I have no desire at the moment to go off cymbalta. The campral and naltroxone, (for craving) trazadone, (for sleep) and baclofen (for nerves) yes I will eventually be off these. Thanks for any and all responses!

Edited to add: Do you believe this is an appropriate topic to bring up at a meeting? I don't want to start a battle royal if this is a touchy subject!!!!
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:40 AM
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In my opinion, whatever medication you take is between you and your dr. This is not something that is up to anyone else in your life.

In my experience, I had to get my depression diagnosed and treated before I was able to stop drinking. I still take meds for depression and I expect I always will.
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Old 01-14-2010, 06:44 AM
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Meds help a lot of people during early recovery - and we can use ALL the help we can get.

If what you're taking is helping you, I personally do not believe you should jeopardise your progress to satisfy someone else's beliefs and opinions. I would also encourage you to get further input from your doc - in some cases, taking medication long-term is not necessary. Work together with your doc
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:00 AM
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Hi, but your doctor has prescribed the meds so isn't that what your sponsor means that they are Ok if for medical diagnosis ??

As to the meeting, I think perhaps your instincts are telling you that it is best not to bring this up.....perhaps they are serving you well ??

Maybe you could chat to others individually after the meeting about this and see what their feelings are. Maybe you could find someone with similar experience and have used meds in their recovery. Perhaps they could become your sponsor.

Just some thoughts
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:32 AM
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Your sobriety date is between you and your Higher Power. And yes, whatever medications your Dr has given to you is an outside issue.....as far as what might be discussed in a meeting setting. Feel free to speak to whoever you choose before/after a meeting, but if you mention it during a meeting (which you could do if you wanted), be prepared to get a room full of opinions......some of which involve others who don't have anxiety and/or depression and have never been on any medications themselves.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:32 AM
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I fully agree with Anna.
If you are concerned please discuss it with your doctor who has prescribed them and that in itself is a medical diagnosis anyway.
You don't need confusion at this point.
Well done on 70 days sober. That also shows you are on the right track. Keep going.
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Old 01-14-2010, 07:39 AM
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Thanks for the replies so far. Intention, I think you may have misunderstood my post.

My sponsor stated he does not think they were OK for me, based on the fact they were prescribed for anxiety caused by drinking. But they have helped me in ways they were not prescribed for, such as mellowing my anger issues.

And my instincts were telling me to possibly not bring this up, but I thought I might rather than bouncing from person to person hoping to find someone who has had the experience which may take some time. Also, maybe it would be beneficial to others who are wondering the same thing, and this may be an opportunity for others to learn.
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:01 AM
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IMO If you have a year or so sobriety under your belt, finished the initial work involved in the steps and are now working them on a daily basis, have a good conscious contact with your higher power then oray on the matter and also go to your doctor and explain the situation honestly this time and see what he thinks...otherwise no major changes in the first year...keep going and do after first year as outlined above...hope that helps:-)
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Old 01-14-2010, 08:05 AM
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Hello,

I'm not a doctor of course, but I did want to point out that Cymbalta is first an antidepressant that happens to also help with anxiety. It's not the same compounds found in Xanax and other addictive anxiety medications. The effects of Cymbalta are over a long period of time. It's not the kind of medication one "takes as needed" with an immediate relaxing effect.

Being in recovery can do a real doozy on our mental state of being for at least the first year. This is expected. So sometimes it's hard to say if there is a real lasting chemical inbalance. Some people only need medication for a little while, others need it for a lifetime. In my case, I come from a long line of mentally unstable women including a grandmother who spent most of her adult life in institutions. I have no doubt I'll be on medication possibly all my life. I'm quite okay with that. It's like a genetic bith defect. The real shame is when people wander through their lives untreated.

I don't know if you have a family history, but it's certainly something your doctor would have asked about, and something you should consider or at least ponder.
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Old 01-14-2010, 09:10 AM
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As i read it your sponsor is picking up on the fact that you may have been "skinny" on the truth when speaking to your doctor?..
getting prescibed meds and not giving the doc the full picture?.
am i reading that right?....

Maybe go back to the doctor and ask him if he conciders you should take the meds.......with a fuller/honest picture.

lots of people have other conditions alongside alcoholism...and need to take prescibed meds with qualified diagnosis.
You may find people in aa that love to do that diagnosis for you....lol
but ultimatley is a doctor ...patient......issue.
your business...........

what do you feel about it?........is it sitting right with you that you may have been dishonest or at least skinny with the truth?
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:12 AM
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Originally Posted by eyemitalian0312 View Post
Thanks for the replies so far. Intention, I think you may have misunderstood my post.

My sponsor stated he does not think they were OK for me, based on the fact they were prescribed for anxiety caused by drinking. But they have helped me in ways they were not prescribed for, such as mellowing my anger issues.

And my instincts were telling me to possibly not bring this up, but I thought I might rather than bouncing from person to person hoping to find someone who has had the experience which may take some time. Also, maybe it would be beneficial to others who are wondering the same thing, and this may be an opportunity for others to learn.
Hi eye,

Yes, I did misunderstand, I am sorry.

I think Trucker has a good point, you could to your doctor and give him the full picture and see what he decides about your prescription. Maybe this is what your sponsor would like to see you do....have you asked?...but ultimately coming off any prescribed meds must be between you and the doctor.
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:50 AM
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Good food for thought trucker. I guess since I was enjoying the benefits of cymbalta, although not for the reason they were originally prescribed, I have continued taking them. I do not feel I am pulling a fast one with the Dr. and I was not lying about the anxiety I was experiencing at the onset of beginning the meds. But I do guess at this time I should go and see my doc about not experiencing anxiety anymore, but let him know they are helping with my anger issues and see what he says. And I guess I did say I didn't fill my physician in about drinking. What I should have said is I didn't fill him in on the amount I had been drinking, but it was mentioned. In any case, they were prescribed for a real symptom, anxiety, so I do not believe I was being skinny!!! LOL
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Old 01-14-2010, 11:56 AM
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I would go back to your doctor, fess up about your drinking and have an honest talk about your symptoms and meds.

I don't think it is anyone's business except for you and your doctors concerning meds. It is irritating to hear about people in AA and especially your sponsor, having stuff to say about meds. They aren't doctors and they have no business telling people whether nor not they should be on any medications.
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Old 01-15-2010, 11:47 AM
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Thanks for all the replies. I did set up a Dr.s appointment to review my meds and will fill him in with the reason I was prescribed cymbalta to begin with. I will also let him know that I am not experiencing the anxiety from drinking anymore as I am on day 70. But I will let him know how it has mellowed me and taken away some of my anger issues. I appreciate all that has mentioned that meds are between me and my doctor, and should be of no concern to my sponsor, as that is how I felt as well, but he asked and I wanted to be honest as AA is teaching me to do!!
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Old 01-15-2010, 12:20 PM
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The Doctor should be the one to make suggestions or enhancements to the treatment protocol. I think you are doing the absolute best thing by going to the doctor and filling them in with the entire story which of course the dr should always have to beable to make the best and safest diagnosis. I do not discuss my medications or anything with people at meetings, there are far too many people who have un-scientific and ridiculous assumptions about medications and frankly I have heard it to many times.
You would not tell a epileptic to stop taking medication would you?
well for me it is depression and for me to stop following my doctors advice would put me in a horrible predicament. Anyways, I am glad you are doing the right thing and speaking to your doctor. If your sponsor continues to question the medical advice you are given that is helping you heal, I would find another sponsor, it is just that simple.
Wishing you all the best!
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Old 01-15-2010, 03:43 PM
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Well, AA world services has addressed this issue and their bottom line was that no AA member should play doctor. Additionally, the drugs of concern are narcotics and benzodiazepines, not SSRI-type drugs like Cymbalta (which is a NSRI, I think) for anxiety/depression. The nature of drugs like cymbalta is that they only help restore equilibrium in our brains' natural chemicals. Because of this, if there is not an imbalance, and you do not need the medication, then it won't do anything for you. If you notice a positive difference being on the med, then its likely that you need it. Also, the big book hits upon this topic.

"But this does not mean that we disregard human health measures. God has abundantly supplied this world with fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds. Do not hesitated to take your health problems to such persons. Most of them give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. Try to remember that though God has wrought miracles among us, we should never belittle a good doctor or psychiatrist. Their services are often indispensable in treating a newcomer and in following his case afterward." - pg 133, Alcoholics Anonymous

The idea that all medication is bad for the addict in recovery, or that it will "block you off from conscious contact", is not only obsolete but it is dangerous. It's the equivalent of a WW2 veteran telling a modern marine "Oh, you don't need all that body armor. Just get out there and take a bullet!" If anything an untreated psychiatric condition may in fact inhibit conscious contact with your higher power.

Best of look, and way to go for asking for input on this topic. Sounds like you care about your recovery, that's awesome.
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Old 01-15-2010, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by eyemitalian0312 View Post
He believes this will hamper my ability to have conscience contact with God, making me have an "I don't care attitude". I will say I have also thought of this as well. He also stated that his belief is based on others he is sponsoring and there inability to remain sober because they are on meds. I think this is being rather judgmental, but maybe his experience has shown him differently. He seems to be stating this as fact, rather than opinion as he is not a doctor.
I will never knock having a sponsor cuz I had one who was my lifeline. What bothers me is when sponsoring is based on their experience with the "majority" as opposed to an individual.

You are your own unique person. Because he sponsored other people who couldn't remain sober because they were on meds does not justify him putting you into that same category.

Also, how do you know that his other sponsees' meds are an apple-to-apple comparison to yours?

IMO, his "experience with others" should not make you do something that may not be appropriate or in the best interest for YOU (ie, go off your meds so your conscious contact with God isn't hampered...who's to say it would be if you stayed on them)?

You're right he's not a doctor - I'd keep this between you and your physician - just my humble opinion...take care
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