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Recovery: Medications, Cross-Addictions, Hidden Alcohol, Marijuana and Dangerous Treatments

Medications and Recovery

Often times in the course of addiction treatment, unforeseen circumstances can arise which can be detrimental to the success of a person’s recovery. Below are some examples of substances and situations to be aware of during the recovery process.


There are medications that will trigger the addiction circuits in your brain.  By using these medications, you run the risk of either becoming addicted to them or of relapsing into past addictions.

  1. Opiates (pain pills):  Medications that contain Morphine, such as Dilaudid (hydromorphone), Vicodin or Norco (hydrocodone), and Oxycontin or Percocet (oxycodone) can cause possible addiction issues. In addition, the following narcotics can be just as dangerous, but may not be as well known: Ultram (tramadol), Tylenol #3 or #4 or 222 pills (codeine), Suboxone or Subutex (buprenorphine), Demerol (meperidine), Opana (ozymorphone).

  2. Sedatives:  Tranquilizers used to treat depression and other afflictions such as Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam) or Klonopin (clonazepam), as well as Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Ativan (lorazepam), Tranxene (chlorazepate) and Restoril (temazepam) can cause serious issues during recovery.

  3. Sleeping Pills:  Ambien (zolpidem); Sonata (zaleplon) and Lunesta (eszopiclone).  Sleep disorders may also signal the presence of other serious problems. A physician with the appropriate skills should evaluate disordered sleep and prescribe appropriate treatments (not necessarily drugs). If you are having problems sleeping, you should consult an addiction expert who understands about cross-addiction. Sleep problems are very common, especially early in recovery.

  4. Muscle relaxers:  Drugs like Soma (cariprosodol) or Zanaflex (tizanidine) can be very dangerous for people in recovery.

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

Hidden Alcohol

Whether you have had a drinking problem in the past or not, alcohol can be extremely addictive. What people may not be aware of is how many products actually contain alcohol.

  1. Beware of liquid or gel-cap medications. Some may contain enough alcohol to cause a problem – either triggering addictive behavior or causing an alcohol-Antabuse reaction. These include medications such as cough syrups or vitamin supplements. Since companies frequently change their ingredients, it is important to read the labels on all products.

  2. Some hygiene products such as mouthwashes and hand sanitizers contain alcohol.

  3. Various food products can contain alcohol, such as wine vinegar, tiramisu or vanilla/lemon extracts.


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.

Behavioral Treatments

Medications to treat ADD or ADHD can be marginally addictive. Amphetamines are one common class used to treat ADD/ADHD.  We do not recommend using them while in recovery.  These include medications like Vyvanse, Adderall and Dexedrine. While not as serious as amphetamines, any of the methylphenidate preparations are also hazardous to recovery and we do not recommend using them either.

With respect to marginally addictive medications, there are some commonly prescribed substances that can also be dangerous. These include Flexeril, Benadryl, Pseudoephedrine and Dextromethorphan. Again, your best resource is to consult your addiction specialist regarding these types of treatments, or call Brighton Center for Recovery at (810) 227-1211 with any questions.