The following comments were made by a GP after reading the article below called "Medication"

I recently came across an article written by one of our local AA recovery group sponsors about medications and sobriety. I read with great interest, and all throughout the article I realised how little we doctors know about the depth of work involved in the services that such groups provide to our alcoholic patients.

This article reflects the extent of care and discipline that some sponsors exercise to achieve sobriety for their group attendees. I wish there was more publicity and awareness about their activities to all General Practitioners. I think it would be worthwhile to have a copy of this article in each GP surgery, to enable doctors to work in tandem with AA sponsors, to help their alcoholic patients.

I went through witnessing the great job done by one of these sponsors to my own family.  My nephew, who is attending one of our local AA groups, has been sober now for almost seven years. I recall the pain and suffering that the whole family went through in trying to help him, while all attempts by myself and all other family members failed, prior to his attendance at AA.

I recommend the reading of this article to all my GP colleagues. 

Dr. K.  Torabi,  MD, Retired General Practitioner, Plymouth



It sometimes seems that more and more people are arriving at the doors of AA whilst on prescribed medication. The easy solution to this would be to say that it’s got nothing to do with us. Unfortunately burying our heads in the sand condemns many alcoholics who could have been helped. Certain people with problems other than alcoholism will require medication for the rest of their lives, but generally speaking professionals only prescribe medication with the short-term in mind. Most would rather see people free of medication if at all possible. So if a newcomer asks us to sponsor them and they are on medication how do we deal with it? The first thing to make very clear to them is that we are not professionals and everything that we suggest should be referred back to their GP. Another point that should be made clear is that unless they are honest and take the program of Alcoholics Anonymous seriously, stopping their medication might not be their best option.
A Newcomer who wants to come off their medication…

The first thing that we do is suggest that the newcomer makes an appointment to see their GP. The newcomer should then tell their Doctor that they would like to try and live free of all medication, but strictly under the Doctor’s care and direction. If the Doctor is not happy with this then the newcomer should enquire by how much, if any, they can reduce their dose, and over what time period. They should make the GP aware that they intend to do the program of Alcoholics Anonymous with the help of a sponsor and regular meetings. If the Doctor insists that the newcomer has to stay on medication we do not argue, the newcomer should be advised to accept this and perhaps try again a few months time.
Sponsoring somebody who comes off medication without the GP’s consent…

We simply don't do it!
A newcomer who is reducing their medication with their GP’s permission…

If the GP has approved of this then the newcomer should have an idea of how long that it will take before they are free of medication. If it is going to be relatively quickly they might want to wait before taking the third step, whilst continuing to take other constructive actions. If on the other hand it is going to take several months they can do one of two things – either wait whilst continuing to do the daily suggestions, or start taking the Steps and change their sobriety date when they are free of all drugs. This second approach is not ideal, but if somebody is going to be on medication for a long time, they might think that the quality of their life will be improved by taking the Steps sooner.
When a GP allows a newcomer to come off one type but not all of their medication…

Often the GP will allow the newcomer to taper off mind altering anti-depressants but will insist that they stay on what is referred to as “mood stabilisers”. When this is the case it is up to each individual sponsor to decide if they have the relevant experience to continue the sponsorship. They should not feel bad about suggesting the newcomer finds a different sponsor with more similar experience. If they decide to continue then the newcomer should be taken through the Steps as soon as possible. Because the Doctor has insisted on the need for prescribed medication there is no need to change their sobriety date. If the GP at some point in the future decides that it is okay for them to come off the medication, then it is for the conscience of the newcomer to decide on their sobriety date.
Sponsoring somebody for a long time who might benefit from medication…

When we have sponsored somebody for a considerable time and they have taken the Steps it can seem unthinkable that these same people might one day need medication. We are used to seeing people lead good and productive lives and are naturally reluctant to believe that they should try medication. But it is silly to think that just because we are in AA that we will never fall victim to problems other than alcoholism. On occasion good AAs who wholeheartedly take the actions find that they need to either go back on medication or try medication for the first time. This should only be considered after an honest discussion with the persons GP. If the sponsor knows the member well enough then, even having no similar experience themselves, they might find that continuing to sponsor them is not a problem and a change of sobriety date is not required this should be left to the conscience of the individual concerned.
Somebody asks you to sponsor them but they want to stay on medication regardless of what the GP says…

The simplest way to answer this is to say that you don't have experience of living sober whilst taking medication, so don't feel able to sponsor them. But that you will assist them in finding somebody who does have more similar experience.