Pain management and pain recovery — aren’t these terms interchangeable?
Actually, they have two very different meanings. For people who deal with chronic pain and are also in recovery from substance use disorder, knowing that distinction can be lifesaving.
Pain always has a negative impact. The key to mitigating its effects is to gain a better understanding of the safest way to get relief without risking addiction. Continue reading to learn more about the differences between pain management and pain recovery.
What is pain management?
Pain management refers to the conventional use of medications, along with other therapeutic interventions, to relieve either acute or chronic pain. The primary medications used to manage pain are opioids, which are powerful narcotics such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine and fentanyl.
There is no disputing the need for medications that provide pain relief. However, as effective as these drugs are at blocking the brain from receiving pain signals from the central nervous system, they are also highly addictive substances.
In recent years, our nation has grown all too aware of the dangers related to opioid use, and addiction. For someone in recovery from opioid use disorder, an alternative path to pain management has been developed. This alternative route is called pain recovery.
What is pain recovery?
Research continues to advance on holistic, non-narcotic treatments for chronic debilitating pain. Pain recovery programs can offer alternative solutions for those in need of pain relief without the use of opioids, especially if they are on a recovery journey for substance use disorder.
Pain recovery treatment provides a recovery-friendly path for chronic pain patients who have also developed an opioid use disorder. These specialized programs combine substance recovery treatments such as withdrawal management, psychotherapy, 12 Step programs, family therapy, and education in tandem with safe pain reduction options. These holistic methods include acupuncture, massage, hydrotherapy and reflexology, among others.
Pain management without opioids
Individuals in recovery for substance use disorder are able to manage most chronic pain conditions using holistic techniques, non-narcotic medications and supplements. Consider these treatment methods for opioid-free pain relief:
- Non-opioid medications: Some of the drugs used to treat chronic pain include naproxen, acetaminophen, aspirin, mood stabilizers, tricyclic antidepressants, SSRIs, SNRIs, gabapentin, valproic acid, and pregabalin.
- Mindfulness: This form of meditation, when used in conjunction with other holistic treatment elements, has been shown to be effective in pain management.
- Psychotherapy: Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can be effective in helping pain patients in recovery. CBT works by helping the individual make changes in negative thought patterns that have led to maladaptive behavioral responses in the past.
- Supplements: A broad range of natural supplements has been shown to provide pain relief, including:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin taken with aspirin
- Capsicum cream
- Vitamin D
- Holistic treatments: Another method for narcotic-free pain relief involves holistic activities. These include:
- Hydrotherapy: Water exercises, such as swimming or participating in pool exercises, have been shown to be helpful for soothing pain related to arthritis.
- Massage: Therapeutic massage focuses on the soft tissues and muscles to provide pain relief for individuals who have chronic back pain and fibromyalgia.
- Acupuncture: This ancient Eastern practice uses tiny needles that are inserted at strategic locations on the body to open up energy flow, which provides pain relief.
Struggling with chronic pain does not have to involve the use of opioid drug therapy. Pain recovery programs provide treatment for both substance use disorder and chronic pain relief using a variety of alternative and evidence-based methods.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.