Over the counter drugs can be detrimental to recovery at any stage, but especially early recovery. The side effects can cause a “high” and can trigger relapse. There are so many medications available without a prescription. Walking through just the cold medicine aisle of any pharmacy is an intimidating experience. There are name brands, generics, cough, cold, sleep, headache, combo meds, and the list goes on.

Over the counter drugs can be detrimental to recovery at any stage, but especially early recovery.  The side effects can cause a “high” and can trigger relapse.  There are so many medications available without a prescription. Walking through just the cold medicine aisle of any pharmacy is an intimidating experience.  There are name brands, generics, cough, cold, sleep, headache, combo meds, and the list goes on.

How do you know what over the counter medications are safe and which ones you should avoid in early recovery?

Dextramethorphan (DXM).    This is an active ingredient in cough medicine, found in cough and cold medicines.  It effects the brain to suppress cough.  It causes euphoria, distorted perceptions, even hallucinations.   It is being used now recreationally and it is easy to obtain.  This medication will alter brain chemistry, even in small doses.  Avoid it, period!  It is unsafe for any individual in early recovery.

Diphenhydramine (Benadryl).  This is an antihistamine.  By nature, it is a very effective drug for any allergic reactions (bee stings, hives).   However, it has harmful side effects that are detrimental to recovery.  It causes profound drowsiness, dry mouth, lack of coordination and even hallucinations in larger doses.  It is found in numerous over the counter medications.  There may be medical indications to take Benadryl, but it should be used with extreme caution and with medical supervision.

Pseudoephedrine.  This is a very effective decongestant cold medication.  It is a stimulant, used to produce Methamphetamine and is highly abused.  While it is over the counter, it is controlled.  It is found behind the counter and requires a signature.  Many brand name and generic products, along with combination products contain this drug.  This drug is detrimental to anyone in early recovery.  Its stimulant effects are dangerous and it will show up positive on a urine drug screen.

Alcohol containing products.  Many over the counter products contain alcohol.  Some are obvious, but many are not.  Night time cold medicine, cough medicine, sleep aids and mouth wash commonly contain alcohol. The effects of the alcohol in combination with the medication contained in the product make this even more harmful.   Always check labels of liquid medications to identify whether alcohol is included.  Ingesting these products causes a “high” and will effect a breathalyzer and urine drug screen.  Any product containing alcohol is absolutely contraindicated in early recovery.

The key to safely taking any over the counter medication is to read the label.  Many products contain numerous medications, which can be quite confusing.  Avoiding any products with the above mentioned drug ingredients is best.  Never take any medication you do not need, regardless of the side effects.   While in treatment, ask your nurse or physician if you have questions and always report any medication you take.

New Hope Recovery Center provides workshops to our clients about medications and their potential side effects because this is a common question our clients face in treatment. It is important to talk to a medical professional when asking about drug ingredients preferably someone who is knowledgeable about addiction. If you have any questions about or need help contact us!

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Vivitrol Opiate Addiction Chicago Rehab Syringe

Is Vivtrol right for you?

Medication-assisted treatment for addiction to Heroin and other opiates (such as Vicodin and Oxycontin) has been common for decades.  It has also been somewhat controversial because the medication-assisted treatment often involves providing medical substances similar to the addictive drug.  Most recently the controversy has centered on two medications used for opiate addiction: vivitrol and suboxone.  Although there is an abundant amount of information available on the internet - unfortunately not all of it is accurate. The choice whether to use medication to assist in opiate addiction rehab is a personal decision that is best made with accurate information and support from an informed addiction health care team.  So what are the main differences between vivitrol and suboxone?

Vivitrol vs Suboxone

Suboxone combines Buprenorphine (an Opiate) with Naloxone (an Opiate Blocker).  It is an orange colored film taken sublingually (under the tongue) daily and requires regular physician supervision.

Vivitrol is Naltrexone (an Opiate Blocker) in a suspended release injectable suspension.  It is given as an injection and the effects last approximately one month.  While both are effective in combating opiate (Heroin, Vicodin, & Oxycontin) cravings, there are some clear differences.

Suboxone is an opiate and an opiate blocker. As we all know opiates are addictive with unpleasant and even severe withdrawal symptoms.  Many who have used Suboxone report the withdrawal symptoms to be as intense, or worse than, the original opiate.  In order for it to be effective, it must be taken daily and to avoid experiencing withdrawal, must be continued indefinitely.

Vivitrol is purely an opiate blocker.  Once an individual is opiate free for approximately 7 to 10 days, Vivitrol can be given safely with no side effects.  It effectively combats opiate cravings, lasts for approximately one month and causes no further withdrawal symptoms.  Most importantly, if someone were to use an opiate while on Vivitrol, they would feel no effect. Knowing the option of getting high is not available allows a person in early recovery the time and emotional energy to focus on developing an effective recovery program.

For long-term recovery from opiate addiction, a strong and supportive 12-step recovery program offers the best chance for success. With what we know today, Vivitrol is the preferred medication in dealing with opiate addiction.  However, it is a personal choice best made with accurate information from an informed health care team.

Are you or a loved one suffering from Heroin, Vicodin, Oxycontin or other opiate addiction? Want more information about Vivtrol or Suboxone? Call New Hope Recovery Center at 773.883.3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

For more information on New Hope Recovery Center, Vivitrol and Suboxone check out: Vivitrol: New Hope’s Experience – An Important Aid for Opiate Addiction and What You Should Know About Vivitrol And Addiction Treatment