Prescribed medication is used daily by millions of people worldwide for all sorts of issues, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, mood disorders, and even pain relief. Some of the people who have these issues are in Alcoholics Anonymous and other groups, taking such medications, but various program goers see this as a problem, stating that these individuals aren’t, in fact, really sober.
Regardless of what those “if you’re taking medication you’re not sober” people try to endorse, there is a piece of A.A. conference approved literature written in 1984 that discounts what they are saying: “The A.A. Member – Medications & Other Drugs.” This very well written piece on taking prescribed medication and being sober in the program states that “A.A. members and many of their physicians have described situations in which depressed patients have been told by A.A.s to throw away the pills, only to have depression return with all its difficulties, sometimes resulting in suicide. We have heard, too, from schizophrenics, manic depressives, epileptics, and others requiring medication that well-meaning A.A. friends often discourage them from taking prescribed medication. Unfortunately, by following a layman’s advice, the sufferers find that their conditions can return with all their previous intensity… It becomes clear that just as it is wrong to enable or support any alcoholic to become re-addicted to any drug, it’s equally wrong to deprive any alcoholic of medication which can alleviate or control other disabling physical and/or emotional problems.”
How can one disregard this statement made by the higher-ups directing the good of A.A. and disregard someone’s sobriety because they are taking medication to better themselves, mentally and emotionally? Unfortunately, I have heard this happen to a few others in the program and have also been the victim of this judgment while working my own. I currently take various medications for an ongoing mood disorder and ADHD, both of which I’ve been struggling with for most of my life, including my time in rehab. Only recently have I found two that significantly help me with these issues. One of the medications is Trileptol, which helps to stable my mood; and the other, Vyvanse, helps me to control my hyper-activity due to ADHD.
Vyvanse is a stimulant, a cousin to the very popular drug Adderall, that some abuse regularly. When I left rehab and transitioned to the sober living I’m at now, many of the staff members were weary of me taking the Vyvanse, thinking that I would abuse it. I have never had a problem in the past with stimulants but still they are nonetheless concerned. When I first got a sponsor, he criticized me for taking a stimulant, stating that I really didn’t need it and that I was possibly jeopardizing my sobriety. Hearing this made me feel uncomfortable at first but I knew in my heart that I was sober and going to stay sober, taking my medication. It took him awhile but he has accepted the fact that Vyvanse does help me to control my impulsivity and hyper-activity, especially after hearing of all the irrational things I did when I wasn’t on it.
In my opinion, people in the program need to be a little more forgiving and understanding to the people with mental health issues—people such as myself. We are all sick individuals, some a little more than others, trying to get sober. And if medication helps us to achieve a better state of mind, why shouldn’t we take it, and be sober?