There is a definite link between pain management and addiction. Learn how pain management can lead to addiction and what to do to recover.
The Link Between Pain Management and Addiction
When someone copes with chronic pain on a constant basis, they will desperately search for relief. Often, people have access to adequate pain management through our medical systems and use it properly. Sometimes though, pain management patients can become dependent on the medication they use for pain relief. Certain risk factors increase a person’s risk for developing an addiction to pain management medications, but anyone who deals with chronic pain could potentially abuse drugs as a means of pain relief.
Here we’ll investigate how and why pain management is linked so closely with addiction and discuss ways of recovering from addiction to pain medication.
How Pain Management Can Turn Into a Crisis
Unless you suffer personally from chronic pain, you may have no idea how debilitating it can be. The constant throbbing or sharp pain that a person feels can affect their ability to work, enjoy hobbies, or care for themselves or their family. Without relief from this relentless pain, people can feel hopeless or fall into depression.
On top of the pain, physicians often hesitate to prescribe certain opioids, which are generally very effective in treating pain, because they are concerned about the outcome. Doctors are concerned that by prescribing pain medications, they are setting their patients up for needing opioid addiction treatment as a result.
You may notice that doctors take a very careful approach to providing medication for pain management, regardless of if you’ve had surgery, have arthritis, or are having dental work. On one hand, doctors know that their patients want relief from their pain, and they have the ability to provide that relief in the form of prescriptions. On the other hand, how much is enough? And how much is too much?
While careful doctors are a good thing when it comes to the fight against the opioid epidemic, there are a lot of people who fall through the cracks. Some choose to self medicate with illegally obtained pain management medications. Others will “doctor shop”, trying to find one that will help them, or using multiple doctors to obtain more and more medication.
Both of these avenues can lead to drug dependency.
Pain Management and Addiction
Unfortunately, when pain sufferers and pain management patients can’t find solutions at their doctor’s office, they sometimes turn to their own means of pain relief.
- A person who doesn’t get the relief they need from their prescribed medication may begin taking higher doses than their doctor recommends, or may take them more often than they should. This leads to tolerance, and gradually, this person needs to take more and more of the drug to feel the same effects.
- Another person might drink alcohol to numb the pain from a past sports injury that has been painful for years.
- Yet another person might purchase gray market or “street” opioids to cope with the lingering effects of a surgery after her recovery medications are gone.
For all of these people, as they continue to abuse prescription drugs or alcohol, they grow dependent. Eventually, over time, they can become addicted. This can take a tremendous physical and emotional toll on a person. Just because a person has chronic pain, it doesn’t need to mean the end of a productive happy life.
Breaking Free of Addiction to Pain Medication
Some people can find relief in alternative pain management therapies that provide a distraction or relief from discomfort. People who know that they are at risk for addiction may be able to avoid needing pain management drugs altogether. These are best case scenarios, and what we generally see are chronic pain sufferers who are struggling both with pain and with addiction to opiate medications.
There’s good news though! Even if you’ve abused drugs and alcohol for years to manage pain or for other reasons, it’s not too late to get help. Hawaii Island Recovery can be your partner in recovery and help you break free from the prison that is addiction.
At our tranquil, home-like setting in Kailua-Kona, our dedicated staff works with you to treat all forms of addiction. We take a holistic approach to treatment in order to provide whole-body recovery. We take your mental, spiritual, and physical health very seriously.
Throughout treatment at Hawaii Island Recovery, you will be attended to by a board certified addictionologist who can help you safely and comfortably detox from opiates. While that happens, and after, you will begin your journey to recovery. We offer multiple specialized and personalized treatments in our residential setting, including:
- Psychotherapy – both individual and group therapy with others who understand what you’re going through.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – a well-researched and effective method of treating addiction through talk therapy.
- Dual Diagnosis Treatment – We include treatment for mental health disorders when needed. It’s common for patients with addictions to also need treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, or ADHD, and we are here to help.
- Experiential Cultural Programming – Including dolphin and equine therapy, snorkeling, and other experiences in our beautiful Hawaiian setting. Taking time outside here is healing in itself.
A sober future can be yours when you reach out for help. Overcome dependency to drugs and alcohol, and be the healthy person you and your loved ones deserve.