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Addiction and Substance Abuse

Drugs vs surgery

01/31/2008

Question:

My boyfriend is a past drug user, who underwent hernia surgery in May 2006. He did not tell the Dr. about his prior drug problem. 3-4 weeks after the surgery, he began using cocaine/crack. I felt the surgery (anesthesia, and pain pills) strongly controlled his desire to turn back to drugs. I`ve heard you should alarm surgeons whether you`ve had a prior drug problem. Is this true? Could this really be the reason whe he went back to drugs? He is now incarcerated due to a crime committed while being under the influence of crack.

Answer:

Thank you for your excellent yet painful question. It is quite clear from clinical experience that your suspicion is true ... ANY use of "euphoria producing" or "brain rewarding" substances can re-start the addiction cravings and then the addiction behavior cycle. We often refer to this as the "prescription trap" relapse pattern, where a person may be doing well in sobriety, but they develop a health problem and they (and their doctors) un-knowingly begin to use a prescription drug that is considered a "controlled drug" (potentially addictive). It is certainly a common pattern that "one thing leads to another" and the addiction is re-started.

I am sorry for you and for your boyfriend's experiences with this issue. Hopefully he will be able to get into a Drug-Court type or Substance Abuse Pre-Release Program and start back into addiction treatment prior to being released from jail. Please write back if you have further questions.

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Response by:

Ted   Parran, MD Ted Parran, MD
Associate Professor of General Medical Sciences
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University