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Addiction treatment: Here’s the prescription for relapse

I met yet another addict who is taking benzos prescribed by a doctor who knew this woman is an addict trying to stay clean.shutterstock_250733671

WTH? (I would like to say WTF? but I’m a lady.)

This addict said the doctor who prescribed her Klonopin and Ativan knows she is in recovery. In fact, he’s the doctor who treats clients in her intensive outpatient program. (Again, WTH?)

I have two problems with this common scenario:

Doctors who prescribe benzos to patients whom they know are addicts or alcoholics are guilty of malpractice.* That’s like waving a big old wand of pink cotton candy in front of the 3-year-old and telling her to eat just a little bit in the morning and a little bit after school. Are you kidding me!!!!

Addicts who take benzos just because a doctor prescribed them are guilty of fraud. Believe me, addicts know every drug and household product out there that can get them high. Ignorance is not a defense for an addict because addicts are not ignorant.

There is no “ooops, I didn’t know that would get me high.”  Heroin may be their drug of choice but they know Klonopin and Ativan can get them high and yet they will still allow a doctor to write them a script for benzos. What can possibly be better than having a doctor’s blessing and an insurance company’s coverage?

Many addicts and alcoholics are dual-diagnosed. I’m an alcoholic with bipolar II. For years I have ranted about doctors prescribing benzos to addicts and alcoholics in recovery. But as much blame goes to the addicts and alcoholics who fill those prescriptions.

On page 58 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous are two sentences that every dual-diagnosed alcoholic should live by:

There are those, too who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

For me, the “capacity to be honest” means that I will not take prescribed medications that I know will get me high just because an ignorant doctor wrote me a prescription.

I am blessed. When I sunk into a deep depression and finally admitted I needed help, I found my way to a psych nurse practitioner who had previously worked in a drug treatment center. She knew which drugs could and could not be safely prescribed to dual-diagnosed addicts and alcoholics.

We cannot always rely on doctors to do what is in our best interest. I don’t believe a doctor would willfully prescribe a medication that could induce a relapse. But I do believe there are addicts and alcoholics who will use that piece of paper as an excuse to relapse.

*Gabapentin is often used during medical detox. In those situations, I believe the addict should be closely monitored. Under those circumstances, the medication should be administered by a person trained to do so. A newly clean addict should not be given possession of  the medication to avoid abuse and sale. Long-term prescriptions for benzos – more than 30 days – in my opinion, are the problem. 

Woman taking pill image available from Shutterstock.


Addiction treatment: Here’s the prescription for relapse

Christine Stapleton

Christine Stapleton has been a journalist for 35 years. She is now an investigative reporter for The Palm Beach Post. In 2006, began writing a blog for PsychCentral called Depression on My Mind. Her latest blog, Addiction Matters, draws on her 19 years of sobriety and her coverage of the drug treatment industry in South Florida.

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APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2016). Addiction treatment: Here’s the prescription for relapse. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 4, 2020, from


Last updated: 1 Oct 2016
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