The appropriate use of medications for individuals suffering from severe depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, or other behavioral disorders can be extremely helpful in furthering recovery. This is a process of balance, because the inappropriate use of medications can be a major cause of relapse and suffering. The challenge we face, especially in those who are recovering from a chemical dependency, is to identify those who will truly benefit from medication and those who will not.
All residents admitted to Sierra Tucson will have their medication needs thoroughly evaluated. This includes assessment of the medications residents are taking prior to admission to Sierra Tucson as well as the need for medications during their stay. We often will discontinue all medications, if it is felt to be safe, to allow the resident a “drug washout.” This can often be extremely enlightening when done in a controlled setting, since many residents have problems that were caused by medications rather than relieved by them.
Experts in Medication Management
The medical and psychiatric staff at Sierra Tucson are experts, trained in the management of medications for use in psychiatric illness and chemical dependency. A thorough evaluation is given prior to prescribing any medication. We also talk with residents before a prescription is considered to discover their perspective on medications. Prescribing medications to a resident who is not willing to take them only invites non-compliance and failure. We offer educational sessions on medications in several of our informational lectures. A weekly mental health lecture also discusses the appropriate use of medications by any individual with a mental illness or a chemical dependency problem. Residents are educated about what medications may or may not be helpful. We also provide referrals to sources of information that can answer questions about specific issues.
In the past, residents have been advised that, “In recovery, all drugs are bad and should be avoided.” Although the intent of this message was valid, today it is neither practical nor helpful. Residents will be making decisions on a regular basis with issues regarding medications. Individuals need a process by which they can sort out the good medications (helpful and necessary) from the bad, as well as an environment that continually supports them.