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Stopping An Addiction Due to Ill Health

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 22 Aug 2018 | comments*Discuss
Ill Health; Consequences; Honesty; Cold

Addictions can not only cause ill health but can exacerbate the symptoms of illnesses that may otherwise have not needed medical attention. In the case of either some illnesses may require the addict to stop their addiction due to medications, circumstances or because of the consequences of continuing.

Interactions with Other Medications

Research continues to provide evidence that most illicit drugs interact with certain other prescription medications, for example cannabis can affect the effects of sedative medications.

These results may prevent the regular management of known illnesses and cause the prescribing physician to make changes to their plan of care if addiction is sought. It is in the addict’s best interests to try and give up their habit if an illness has developed, especially those of a long-term nature.


Hospitalisation is the single most effective way of providing the opportunity for the addict to give up their habit. This does not necessarily mean admission on to a mental health ward or rehabilitation centre, but to a general ward also. If addict is denied access to their usual drug, they will find them selves suffering from the effects of going ‘cold turkey’.

Doctors and nurses will routinely screen and question regarding drug abuse if it is suspected. The addict is advised to be honest about heir habit especially if surgery is indicated and anesthetic used. The anesthetist will be able to make provisions for the addict and amend medications as necessary.

Post-operative pain relief will be prescribed with addiction in mind and alternative methods of non-addictive pain relief will be given.

The addict could use this opportunity to overcome their habit and use the situation to their advantage asking questions and seeking advice from healthcare professionals who will be able to make referrals as necessary.

Overcoming an illness may require a long period of convalescence at home where access to drugs is not possible so the person may use this period to stop their habit as long as they inform their healthcare provider and their carers at home. It is not the best time to recover from an illness if withdrawal symptoms and cravings are to be expected and the addict should give consideration to this.

Consequences of Continuing Drug Abuse

If a drug addict continues to use their substance of choice when a healthcare professional has advised them against it, they should be aware of the expected consequences. Along with this, the addict should understand that it is in their best interests to tell their healthcare provider of their addiction as the doctor may prescribe medications that interact severely with illicit substance with consequences including overdose if similar medications are prescribed.

Effects of certain medications can be enhanced or worsened by combining them with other substances.

One of the common consequences may be a decrease in respiration rate which can result in a lack of oxygen to the vital organs including the brain.

If an addict is used to injecting their substance they should be taught of the dangers if the continue to do so in the presence of vascular disease and diabetes; consequences can include amputation of the limbs.Drug addiction is very hard to overcome when the addict is in their best health so consideration should be given to overcoming the habit prior to an operation, or if not possible, an open and honest approach should be given to the healthcare providers.

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I am a 52 year old woman who is also an alcoholic. Yesterday I was diagnosed with osteonecrosis in both ankles. I have been in severe pain for 6 months and have used more alcohol to numb the physical pain in addition to numbing the physcological pain. The problem is that, it is the alcohol that is the primary cause of the condition therefore I need to stop. I attend a support group and have attended my 1st AA meeting but I am really struggling. I feel as if I would be grateful to develop a massive PE then it would all be over. I am not even sure of what I am asking just know I wanted to write down how I was feeling and I guess,how others have managed to stop. Thank you for listening From eeyore
Eeyore - 22-Aug-18 @ 5:19 PM
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