Medications to Avoid | Ascension
Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery

Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery

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It is our philosophy that any medication or substance that can cause addiction should not be prescribed or used in recovery.  This philosophy is based on the scientific principle that certain medications or substances activate addiction pathways in the brain.  Activating these pathways carries the risk either of developing a new addiction or of relapsing into past addictions.  These medications or substances include:

  1. Opiates (pain pills):  Medications that contain Morphine or Dilaudid (hydromorphone),Vicodin or Norco (hydrocodone), and Oxycontin or Percocet (oxycodone) can cause addiction. In addition, other narcotics can be just as dangerous, but may not be recognized as such, including Ultram (tramadol); Tylenol #3 and #4 or 222 pills (codeine); Suboxone, Subutex, or Zubsys (buprenorphine);  Demerol (meperidine); and Opana (oxymorphone).
  2. Sedatives:  Tranquilizers are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety,  although other effective medications are available for these conditions.  Medications such as Valium (diazepam), Xanax (alprazolam),  Klonopin (clonazepam), Librium (chlordiazepoxide), Ativan (lorazepam), Tranxene (chlorazepate), and Restoril (temazepam) are treatments for anxiety and/or depression that are dangerous for addicts in recovery.
  3. Sleeping pills:  Ambien (zolpidem), Sonata (zaleplon), and Lunesta (eszopiclone) are commonly prescribed to aid sleep.  Sleep problems are very common in recovery, especially in the beginning.  These sleep aids, however, are extremely hazardous for people in recovery.  If a recovering person has difficulties with sleep, a physician with the appropriate skills in addiction medicine should evaluate the problem and prescribe appropriate treatments (not necessarily medications), since sleep disorders may also signal the presence of other serious health problems.
  4. Muscle relaxers:  Drugs like Soma (cariprosodol), Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine), or Zanaflex (tizanidine) can be very dangerous for people in recovery.


Though there are many debates on the legality of marijuana, the fact remains that it is an addictive substance, and it should not be consumed in any way during recovery.

Psychostimulant medications

Amphetamines and methylphenidate are common medications used to treat ADD/ADHD.  We do not recommend their use in recovery.  These classes include medications such as Vyvanse, Adderall, Dexedrine, Ritalin, Concerta, and others.

Marginally addictive medications

There are some commonly prescribed or over-the-counter substances that can also be dangerous to use in recovery. These include Benadryl (diphenhydramine), Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), and dextromethorphan (DXM).  If medications to treat coughs, colds, or allergies are needed, it is best to consult an addiction specialist regarding these types of treatments, or call Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery at 810-225-2525 with any questions.

Hidden alcohol

  1. Medications in liquid or gel-cap form may contain enough alcohol to cause detectable blood levels.  They can trigger relapse or cause an alcohol-Antabuse reaction. These medications include cough syrups and liquid vitamin supplements. Since companies frequently change their ingredients, it is important to read the labels on all products.
  2. Hygiene products such as mouthwashes and hand sanitizers may also contain enough alcohol to cause detectable blood levels.
  3. Various food products can contain alcohol, such as wine vinegar, tiramisu, and  vanilla or lemon extracts.

You should read the labels on all foods and medications to see if alcohol is an ingredient. Call the Ascension Brighton Center for Recovery (810-227-1211) if you have questions about any medications.

Recovery is worth the work!

Medications to Avoid

In today’s culture, there is a great deal of confusion about the use of potentially addicting medications in recovery.