Michael Peter Balzary is sober. More popularly known as Flea, the bassist from Red Hot Chili Peppers, the world famous musician has been outspoken about his struggles with addiction and his commitment to sobriety. Flea knows all too well the reality of addiction recovery: it does not guarantee immunity from life. During a snowboarding trip, Flea broke his arm and needed surgery. Thankfully, Flea was able to recover after his surgery and can still play bass as one of the greatest. However, his surgery came with consequences: his doctor prescribed him a two-month supply of Oxycontin, one of the most addictive narcotic opioid painkillers on the market.
Like many men in recovery who live their sobriety to the fullest potential and endure an injury, Flea had to grapple with taking a mind-altering, addictive substance in recovery. Was he no longer sober because he took the medication according to prescription? Did he have to reset his sobriety date because he put these substances in his body? He didn’t disclose. Flea did take the medications for a short period of time, but he did not relapse into a cycle of substance abuse, though the experienced the side effects of taking these medications according to prescription, which was four pills a day. He explained in an essay he wrote for TIME, that he felt high when he took the medications. “It not only quelled my physical pain, but all my emotions as well. I only took one a day, but I was not present for my kids, my creative spirit went into decline and I became depressed.” Flea stopped taking the medications after a month, he writes, but he “…could have easily gotten another refill.”
Poignantly, Flea points out, “There is obviously a time when painkillers should be prescribed, but medical professions should be more discerning.” Flea writes that he explicitly informed his doctor of his past struggles with addiction. “It’s also equally obvious that part of any opioid prescription should include follow-up, monitoring and a clear solution and path to rehabilitation if anyone becomes addicted.”
Any opioid prescription should include follow-up, monitoring and a clear solution and path to rehabilitation if anyone becomes addicted. Flea speaks the truth for men who are in recovery, and men who are not in recovery, who face an opioid prescription. Opioid addiction is the leading cause of death for men under the age of 50. Men are prone to injury and accident as they develop a life of adventure, extreme sports, and physical activity in recovery. Men may endure significant physical trauma which could result in a morphine drip at a hospital or temporarily needing painkillers, even if not the opiate kind. Being post-surgery or post-injury does not mean being post-recovery. Keeping medications closely managed in recovery, seeking alternative healing options, and being willing to cope with a certain threshold of pain can be the difference between sustained sobriety and a slip back into addiction. Injuries and recovery from injuries are temporary. Recovery lasts a lifetime.
Sustained recovery is created through sustainable changes. At Tree House Recovery in Portland, Oregon, we help men find freedom from addiction with nature inspired, evidence based treatment programs customized to each man’s needs. For information on our programs, call us today: (503) 850-2474