Chronic pain can come in a variety of forms, from a persistent, repeatedly aggravated injury to an illness that inflames the joints or nerves and is estimated to affect over 25% of the population. When pain becomes an ever-present barrier in daily living, the first expectation most patients have of their physician is help to manage it, even while the end goal is often diagnosis and treatment of the underlying ailment. Prescription medications are common and considered a helpful aid in the treatment of chronic pain. For those with certain risk factors, however, the use of opioid pain medication for the treatment of such pain can lead to substance use disorders.
When and How Does a Treatment Cross Over Into Addiction?
There are countless studies dedicated to discovering the nature of what makes a person prone to a substance use disorder. From genetics to environmental factors to mental health disorders, each case of addiction is unique to the individual, which is why stories of addiction and recovery vary so widely. While it is possible to be aware of these risk factors ahead of time and prevent addiction, more commonly, people are unaware of their predisposition until they have already begun self-medicating. For this reason, those with chronic pain disorders coexisting with these risk factors, a routine prescription for pain management, may have, over time, developed as a substance use disorder. The average patient may experience tolerance and physical dependency that can be managed effectively under medical supervision. However, in cases of addiction, behaviors may change, for example, recognizing the distinction between chronic pain and withdrawal pain. In such cases, what was once a solution becomes a problem, creating unmanageability around both physical illness and substance use. Some abnormal behaviors include:
- Thinking about or counting your medication constantly
- Taking more or a different amount than prescribed
- Going to different doctors for various pain issues, obtaining separate prescriptions
- Seeking additional medication from sources other than a doctor
- Administering your medication differently than prescribed
If the treatment of your chronic pain has become unmanageable, and you wish to seek freedom from dependency on pain medications, there is hope. As the nature of how chronic pain and substance use relate to one another, specific and individualized treatment can be used to help aid patients in returning to a healthy life.
Treatment Options For Chronic Pain in Recovery
Conditions as wide-ranging as pinched nerves to auto-immune disorders, or even depression can cause chronic pain. Every diagnosis comes with unique challenges, and those challenges often look different for each patient, therefore how chronic pain manifests is specific to every individual. It is essential to recovery in both substance use disorder and any coexisting pain syndrome that care be comprehensive and individualized. You must treat the body and the mind cohesively to gain not only freedom from addictive pain management methods but also lasting maintenance of physical pain both during and after treatment.
Pain recovery requires its own unique approach. Care should be tailored specifically to each patient; some elements of an integrated treatment plan may include:
For some, the road to recovering from chronic pain starts with detoxing from medications used in former treatment methods. Medical monitoring during this process increases safety and eases discomfort.
- Access to clinical care
A physician should manage each chronic pain condition. A patient’s individual needs can be considered and built into a medical care plan for use during and after treatment.
- Physical conditioning and alternative treatments
Depending upon the nature of the condition, physical therapy and exercise can be included in an individual care plan to aid in recovery from chronic pain disorders. In addition to these, some alternative treatment methods can be implemented, such as:
- Aqua therapy
- Meditation and Mindfulness
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS unit treatments
- Mental health care
Working with a psychologist or mental health specialist to treat any underlying or accompanying mental health challenges helps regain a sense of self and connection.
- Supportive group care
Those who suffer from chronic pain often feel isolated and misunderstood. Patients reconnect to those around them and establish networks of support through group therapy and education. Group care restores positivity to pain recovery.
The unique set of challenges faced by each individual with chronic pain can lead to a sense of powerlessness and a lack of hope for an improved quality of life. When those closest to us are unable to identify with or understand how pain has reshaped the nature and outlook of our everyday lives, we struggle with feelings of isolation and fear. For some, the resulting substance use after traditional treatment options leaves us with even more significant challenges. Pain management without addiction is possible. A cohesive, comprehensive treatment plan that maintains the body and the mind can aid in the start of a new chapter without pain.
Ashley Addiction Treatment is an innovative treatment program located on Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Ashley provides support for professionals seeking help with addiction We are able to help people with co-occurring disorders and offer confidential treatment programs to meet your needs. Please reach out to us today at 800-799-4673.