Saturday, September 29, 2007

Depression in recovery

NA is going through a big redefining, it seems, of the use of medications, including methadone, in recovery. There was a great meeting at World Convention on this topic, which has generated another outpouring of discussion. I think eventually we'll reach some sort of consensus; however, I try to stay out of the fray. I have strong opinions, but they are just that, my opinions which have arisen out of 1) my personal biases and 2) the flaming failures I've seen over the years of those who choose to take medications in recovery without proper oversight.

Last night a young gal approached me at a meeting because she's having trouble with her medications for anxiety and sleeplessness. I am not a psychiatrist; I'm not qualified to counsel her regarding what to do about anxiety and which drugs are okay to use within our confines. I simply referred her to a woman who is a local resource who will help her find a psychiatrist that is familiar with the addiction model.

Early in my recovery, I watched a gal who had psychosis stop taking all her medications, allegedly at her sponsor's request. She soon starting coming to meetings wearing a gun belt and carrying a racket ball racket in her purse, with the back window missing from her car. Then she called a friend of mine in a panic and said the Secret Service were watching her. He went over to visit her to try to calm her down only to be confronted in her front yard by--the Secret Service. Apparently she had written the President at the time a few bizarre letters.

This was a powerful lesson to me. As much as I know which drugs I can take with impunity (and there aren't many) and which ones I can't, it's not my job to give advice to a newcomer about medication. I can only hope she gets a good psychiatrist who can guide her in her choice of medications.

There are people who I watch struggle, I mean struggle, with depression in recovery. I really feel for them, because in some cases, you can work The Steps until you drop, but the depression is obviously a chemical imbalance from years of torquing our own chemistry or a hereditary problem. I dislike the black and white thinking I sometimes hear that "I just work The Steps and if you did, you wouldn't be depressed." I usually approach these people after the meeting and ask where they were credentialed.

Our literature is clear. There are times in recovery, and this includes for some of us our entire lives, that we must take medication. That decision is one best made with a doctor and a very savvy sponsor.


vicariousrising said...

Great post.

Syd said...

I totally agree. There is a woman at one of my meetings who told someone to not do ECT treatments for depression. I asked if she knew anything about ECT or how it worked. She said that she didn't. There's a lot of ways to mess up a life and depression isn't anything to fool around with.

Sissy said...

Wow! talk about ironic! Doing a search for my dog's sire, Bastin vom Kokeltal, I came across your page! I, too, have a working dog and by the grace of God, have been granted 15 years of sobriety thru AA and it's blessings!
I don't suffer from depression, thank God, but remain a grateful alcoholic living for today and working with others!
God Bless!

Shadow said...

everyone needs help some time, and sometimes that includes medication. if it helps, if it works, if it's not addictive, if you have no side effects, take it on recommendation of a doctor or therapist. i've been on anti-depressants for about 2 years now. but i'm going off them now, actually my last one will be on thursday. why? 'cause i felt no different taking them... so the doctor switched to a different one, still nothing. so i figure, why take them...

ScOuT said...

Well, of course, I agree and disagree with you.
I don't think our literature is clear at all. In fact they seem to take a stand, a wishy washy stand, on an outside issue.
Have you seen the new literature that is now out on medications? I appreciate the attempt, I think, but to me, they have muddied the waters even more. Now they are implying that people on drug replacement therapy are not CLEAN. Chantix is a fricking drug replacement therapy cause it blocks the receptor sites for nicotine -- for G-d sake. So now we're not clean if we take Chantix? Or we only pick on CERTAIN DRTs?
They should have left it an outside issue because it is one.
Just one woman's opinion.