Treating Pain and Addiction When They Coexist
In many ways, it should come as no surprise that the fastest-growing addiction epidemic involves the use and misuse of prescription painkillers. Chronic pain and addiction often go hand-in-hand, and many drug dependencies are caused by people self-medicating their chronic pain conditions.
So how do you stay in recovery while managing your chronic pain? How do you keep yourself comfortable and pain-free without resorting to the very medications that fueled your addiction in the first place? If you want to avoid opioid drugs and the addictive potential they bring with them, you will need a smart strategy, one that combines natural forms of pain relief with the latest findings in medicine and science.
The Relationship Between Chronic Pain and Addiction
It is no secret that there is a strong relationship between chronic pain and addiction or that the use of opioid drugs and other types of prescription drugs used for pain can lead to addiction. The new class of opioid painkillers turned out to be more addictive, not less, than the ones they replaced. Still, by the time their addictive nature became apparent, millions of people were already addicted.
There are other connections between chronic pain and addiction, including similarities in the individuals’ behaviors in question. For instance, chronic pain patients’ drug-seeking behaviors may look very similar to those of chronic pain patients, who often must travel from doctor to doctor to get the relief they are seeking.
Pain as a Root Cause of Addiction
There has been a lot of press surrounding the epidemic of opioid drugs and the misuse of prescription drugs used to treat pain. What is less known is that pain is often a root cause of addiction and that pain is often a preexisting condition that makes the dependency on opioid drugs far more likely.
Chronic pain sufferers may be more likely, for instance, to seek out powerful prescription drugs to treat their discomfort, especially if they have been struggling with these issues for many years. This may be responsible for the link between chronic pain and addiction. Those who have suffered for many years have probably tried many over-the-counter remedies, and even a few natural pain relief approaches.
In recent years studies in the growing field of addiction science have found that many forms of drug addiction, including dependency on opioid drugs, are often a form of self-medication. The men and women who end up abusing these powerful prescription drugs may do so in an attempt to manage a medical condition they know they have, even if it has not been formally diagnosed. And as they ramp up their use of these powerful opioid drugs, addiction tends to follow, owing to these medications’ unique and uniquely dangerous facets.
If someone in your life has been suffering from chronic pain, it is a good idea to talk to them about their options, not only opioid drugs that can be abused and cause addiction but also natural and alternative pain relief methods. Prescription drugs are not the only choice for pain relief, and sharing your research on the alternatives could stop addiction before it starts.
Drug-Free Ways to Manage Chronic Pain
Managing chronic pain is not an easy thing to do, especially when you are also trying to head off an addiction or avoid a potential dependency. If you or someone you care about has been struggling with chronic pain, finding accurate and effective alternatives take on a new significance, and the research you do today could pay big dividends tomorrow.
One of the most important steps you can take in managing chronic pain without using potentially addictive opioid drugs is to consult with a pain specialist. These medical doctors have special training in treating all kinds of pain, from minor discomfort to severe post-surgical and cancer pain. These experts can guide you, or a loved one through the process, helping you find natural and drug-free alternatives to risky opioid medications. Some of their recommendations may include:
- A misalignment of the spine causes – Chiropractic care to address spinal misalignment and chronic back pain – Many instances of chronic back pain, issues chiropractors are uniquely equipped to treat.
- Biofeedback methods – Biofeedback machines help people tune into their bodies, giving them insight into their chronic pain while providing them with tools for natural pain relief
- Hypnosis – For some chronic pain sufferers, hypnosis can be a powerful tool for relief, especially if you can find a qualified practitioner.
- Gentle forms of exercise – Exercise and working out can be real hurdles for those with chronic pain, but gentle exercise can actually encourage pain relief. Things like water aerobics and medically overseen exercise regimens can help a lot, as can simple things like walking.
- Alternative opioids – Sometimes, chronic pain cannot be managed effectively through natural pain relief. In those cases, alternatives to more harmful drugs may be the best way to proceed. Medications like buprenorphine and naltrexone can provide pain relief with less addictive potential, but their use should be carefully managed by a professional.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders at WhiteSands
Managing chronic pain and addiction simultaneously is not an easy thing to do, but it is something we specialize in at WhiteSands. We understand how ongoing pain, chronic suffering, and addictive opioid medications can combine, forming a toxic mix and necessitating quality rehab.
If you want to manage your chronic pain effectively without putting your health at risk, we encourage you to pick up the phone and give WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab a call or visit our locations. Our caring counselors will walk you through every step of the process, from determining the state of your health to developing a pain relief strategy that will allow you to live a happier, healthier, and fuller life.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.