Say you are an alcoholic and/or addict and dual diagnosed (or triple diagnosed like me). You want to get clean and sober. You have heard that successful sobriety hinges on the one addict/alcoholic helping another. You seek help from a clean and sober addict/alcoholic – a mentor who will share his/her experience, strength and hope. A mentor who will guide you and make suggestions. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Well, it can kill you if your mentor tells you that you must stop taking anti-depressants, mood stabilizers or anti-psychotics because they are are “mood altering” drugs. Some recovering addicts/alcoholics refuse to mentor others who take these “mood altering” drugs. Some even say you are not clean and sober if you take these medications. 

This attitude is insane, ignorant, irresponsible, arrogant, dangerous, self-righteous and stigmatizes mental illness even more. Where do  people clean and sober for years – often with nothing more than a high school degree – get off thinking that they know more than a psychiatrist? Sure, there are ignorant psychiatrists who prescribe benzodiazepines, such as Xanax to a self-proclaimed addict/alcoholic. There are probably just as many addicts/alcoholics to do not tell their phsychiatrist that they are addicts/alcoholics so they can get a script for benzos. 

Studies have shown that 30-50 percent of addicts/alcoholics also suffer from a companion mental illness. I believe the number one cause of relapse among the dual-diagnosed is untreated depression and bipolar. ALL illnesses must be treated for us to become healthy and stay clean and sober. 

I slipped into a clinical depression seven years into my sobriety. I was one of those recovering alcoholics who thought that if I just worked harder and helped other alcoholics more I would feel better. It did not work. I finally surrendered after a friend in recovery told me that she had taken anti-depressants for years. I have taken anti-depressants and a mood stabilizer for years. I AM clean and sober.

These self-righteous recovering alcoholics and addicts need to wise up and shut up. In my opinion, it is okay – even helpful – to ask recovering alcoholics/addicts if they have been honest with their doctor and asked not to be prescribed medication that could cause a relapse. It is okay to ask what medications a recovering addict/alcoholic is taking and to suggest that they confide in another alcoholic/addict about their treatment.

It is NOT okay to tell someone to STOP taking their medications, which have been prescribed by a physician who is aware of a person’s recovery. It is NOT okay to judge or exclude the dual-diagnosed because they take these medications. It is NOT okay for you to prolong someone’s suffering and prevent them from being happy, joyous and free. It is NOT okay for you to play doctor.