Other addicts who, particularly early in recovery, may easily find themselves walking out of the doctor’s office with a prescription for potent painkillers or benzodiazepines. A physician simply takes a symptom, such as pain, and unknowingly prescribes an opiate to a heroin addict. Once a heroin addict, recovering or not, possesses a prescription for opiates, thoughts that travel through the mind transform into an entirely different train. Suddenly, (for purposes of simplicity, this article uses the pronoun “he” to substitute for “addict,” though you could easily substitute she for it too) in a rush of adrenaline, the addict faces an impossible conundrum – he can either tell someone the truth, risking others thinking he is using, or he can lie, take the drug and relapse.  

But that’s not a healthy perspective on this situation. That’s precisely correct. Remember, addiction warps the mind. “Stinking thinking” is a saying in recovery, and it refers to our tendency to view situations with a warped perspective. Instead of viewing this as an opportunity to demonstrate recovery principles, our addict likely views it as a dark situation ripe with danger. And though that may be true, what’s truer is that this situation offers the chance to practice what he’s been taught – honesty in the face of dishonesty, integrity in the face of impairment.

This is why it’s so important for addicts, whether seeing a new doctor, psychiatrist or staying with their current one, to disclose their substance abuse history. Physicians usually make a note of something as important as that. Ethical doctors will treat a substance abuse disorder as the illness it is, rather than treating the addicted patient as a criminal to be discarded at first opportunity.

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