Addiction Treatment Programs

Medications to Avoid

Abstinence-based Recovery

Within the contemporary culture, there is a great deal of confusion about the use of potentially-addicting medications in Recovery.  It is our philosophy that the use of any medication or substance which can cause addiction is contraindicated in Recovery.  This philosophy is based on the simple scientific principle that certain medications or substances activate addiction pathways in the brain.  Activating these pathways carries the risk of either developing a new addiction or of relapsing into past addictions.  Some of these medications or substances include:

  1. Opiates (pain pills):  Medications that contain MorphineDilaudid (hydromorphone),Vicodin or Norco (hydrocodone), and Oxycontin or Percocet (oxycodone) can cause addiction. In addition, the following narcotics can be just as dangerous, but may not be recognized as such: Ultram (tramadol)Tylenol #3 or #4 or 222 pills (codeine),Suboxone or Subutex or Zubsys (buprenorphine)Demerol (meperidine) and Opana (oxymorphone).
  2. Sedatives:  Tranquilizers used commonly used to treat depression and anxiety, although other effective medications are available if needed to treat anxiety or depression.  Medications such as Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam) or Klonopin (clonazepam), as well as Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Ativan (lorazepam), Tranxene (chlorazepate) and Restoril (temazepam) are dangerous treatments for anxiety and/or depression for persons in Recovery.
  3. Sleeping Pills:  Ambien (zolpidem)Sonata (zaleplon) and Lunesta (eszopiclone) are commonly prescribed to aid sleep.  Sleep problems are very common, especially early in recovery.  The drugs listed above, however, are extremely hazardous for persons in Recovery.  If a recovering person is experiencing difficulties with sleep, an addiction expert can help evaluate the problem.  A physician with the appropriate skills should evaluate disordered sleep and prescribe appropriate treatments (not necessarily drugs) as sleep disorders may also signal the presence of other serious health problems.
  4. Muscle relaxers:  Drugs like Soma (cariprosodol)Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) orZanaflex (tizanidine) can be very dangerous for people in recovery.

Call the Brighton Center for Recovery (810-227-1211) if you have questions about any medications.


Though there are many debates on the legality of marijuana, the fact remains that it is an addictive substance and should not be consumed in any way during recovery.

Psychostimulant Medications

Amphetamines and Methylphenidate are common medications used to treat ADD/ADHD.  We do not recommend using them while in recovery.  These include medications like Vyvanse,AdderallDexedrineRitalinConcerta and others.

Marginally Addictive Medications

There are some commonly prescribed or over-the-counter substances that can also be dangerous to use in Recovery. These include Benadryl (diphenhydramine)Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)and Dextromethorphan (DXM).  If medications to treat coughs, colds or allergies are needed, it is best to consult an addiction specialist regarding these types of treatments, or call Brighton Center for Recovery at (810) 225-2525 with any questions.

“Hidden” Alcohol

  1. Liquid or gel-cap medications may contain enough alcohol to cause detectable blood levels of alcohol – either triggering relapse or causing an alcohol-Antabuse reaction. These potentially include medications such as cough syrups or liquid vitamin supplements. Since companies frequently change their ingredients, it is important to read the labels on all products.
  2. Hygiene products such as mouthwashes and hand sanitizers may also contain enough alcohol to cause detectable blood levels.
  3. Various food products can contain alcohol, such as wine vinegar, tiramisu or vanilla/lemon extracts.

It is necessary to read labels on all foods and medications to see if alcohol is an ingredient.  Recovery is worth the work!