What are Psychotropic Medications?
Psychotropic medications are pills you can take to help treat mental health disorders. Not everyone who is diagnosed with a mental health disorder takes medication, but doing so can be beneficial. Sometimes people have resistance to taking meds. There is still a stigma that says a person is “weak” if they need medication to help with recovery. Some people might think “doing it on their own” means they are more functional. Those with co-occurring addictions might worry about becoming dependent on medications.
Thoughts about Taking Medication for a Mental Health Disorder
I am passionate about ending stigmas around addiction and mental health. Still, until going on medication last year, I carried some of these fears. I was over six years sober, and before experiencing a series of stressful events in the years prior, I had been managing my depression and anxiety well through sobriety and therapy. This is true, but I held onto that as a reason to stay off medication, even as it was becoming increasingly clear that meds could improve my quality of life.
It can also be intimidating to start. Medications can have some side effects in the beginning, and they don’t start working for a week or two. It’s important to work closely with your prescribing mental health professional and check in about how you feel. It’s also useful to be upfront with them from the beginning about what you’re hoping to get out of medication, and the side effects you’re most concerned about avoiding. I made a list beforehand of everything I wanted to mention.
When you have co-occurring mental health disorders and addiction, it’s important to treat both at the same time. A couple times during active addiction, I tried going on psychotropic meds, but the interaction between the medication and substances made me sick. I discontinued them quickly and cold turkey—which is something you should never do. If you want to stop taking medication, always talk to your mental health professional about weaning off.
When you’re using substances chronically, you can’t do the work to address underlying issues. Medication isn’t a quick fix or complete solution; it should be part of a comprehensive care plan that helps you build coping skills, process traumas, identify triggers, and all the other work that goes into addiction and mental health recovery. On the other side, if you get sober without addressing any mental health disorders, you may still have the desire to self-medicate and be at risk for relapse.
There is No Shame in Doing What’s Right for You
It is not shameful to take medication. Sometimes our brain needs help producing some of the chemicals we need to be mentally healthy and able to do the work of recovery. If we’re too depressed to get out of bed, we can’t build coping skills or engage with a support system. Whether or not we need medications can also change throughout our lives—as I’ve personally seen—and that’s okay too. It’s important to listen to ourselves, and advocate for whatever we need to thrive.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is help and hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you find a treatment plan that works for you. Call an admissions specialist at 888-906-9431.