Safe and Unsafe Drugs For Addicts

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The following is a partial list of medications and preparations that are generally considered to be unsafe for those with chemical dependency (alcohol and drugs):

  1. Any preparation that contains alcohol or ethanol. This includes most cough preparations, mouthwashes, colognes, perfumes, hand sanitizers (Purell) and aftershaves. When in doubt, always read the label. Beware of foods that are prepared with alcoholic beverages, such as wine or sherry, although the alcohol may be evaporated if added prior to cooking.
  2. Benzodiazepines and other tranquilizers -- Valium, Librium, Librax, Limbitrol, Tranxene, Dalmane, Serax, Xanax, Klonopin, Restoril, Halcion, Ativan, Versed, Miltown, Equanil, Equagesic, Soma, and others.
  3. Barbiturates and other sedatives -- Phenobarbital, Nembutal, Seconal, Florinal, Esgic, Donnatal, Placidyl, Chloral Hydrate, Ambian, Sonata, Lunests and others.
  4. Narcotics -- Morphine, Demerol, Dilaudid, Dolophine (methadone), Percodan, Tylox, OxyContin, Duragesic (fentanyl), Synalgos-DC, Codeine (TYlenol #3, etc.), Talwin, Darvocet, Wygesic, Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, Nubain, Stadol, Suboxone, Ulltram, and others.
  5. Amphetamines and other stimulants -- Dexedrine, Fastin, Ionamin, Tenuate, Meridia, ephedrine, Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, Metadate ER, and others.
  6. Decongestants or weight-control preparations that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

Many drugs that are prescribed to treat mental illness should be used with caution and with a very accurate diagnosis. The medications that fit this description are the major tranquilizers such as Thorazine, Mellaril, Haldol, Navane, Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify and others; and the antidepressants, such as Elavil, Triavil, Desyrel, Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Serzone and others. A few alcoholics and addicts must be maintained on such medications, but the decision to do so should be made jointly by the patient's psychiatrist and addictionist (addiction counselor or other addiction professional).

The following are considered to be safe drugs for addicts: Aspirin, Tylenol, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (Motril, Nuprin, Advil, Naprosyn, Anaprox, and others), antibiotics, some cough syrups (Robitussin-DM, Delsym, Fase-Tussin), and some antihistamines (Allegra and Claritin).

If you are unsure about any drug or other preparation, show this list to your doctor or pharmacist and ask for his or her assistance. If you find that a medication, drug or preparation alters your mood, DON'T USE IT.

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