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Medical Care in Recovery

Adoption Date:
September 1, 1989

Public Policy Statement on Medical Care in Recovery


**Note: This historical policy statement is available as part of ASAM's Policy Archives, but it is no longer considered current ASAM policy. Please contact ASAM's advocacy staff at advocacy@asam.org for questions related to ASAM's position on this topic.


Alcoholism and other drug dependencies (addictive disorders) are primary, chronic, and often progressive diseases that affect almost every aspect of health. The medical, surgical, and psychiatric treatment of a recovering chemically dependent patient may have a profound effect on the patient's risk of relapse. Any potentially addicting drug which alters mood may be hazardous to recovery even if the patient has not previously been dependent upon that substance.

Policy Recommendations

The American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends that:

1. For comprehensive medical care, all disease states, including addictive diseases, either active or in remission, must be taken into account in treatment planning.

2. Abstinence from all potentially addicting, mood altering drugs is the goal for patients in recovery from addiction. However, such drugs occasionally may be a necessary adjunct in the management of a given patient for a specific condition. Judicious prescribing and close monitoring are necessary to minimize the risk of relapse into active addiction.

3. When potentially addicting drugs are medically necessary, their dosages should be determined by the therapeutic requirements, bearing in mind variations in individual tolerance.

4. Physicians are encouraged to seek consultation with a physician knowledgeable in addiction medicine, when treating a patient with a history of alcoholism or other addictive disease.