The Connection Between Chronic Pain and Addiction
Chronic pain is pain that persists for more than six months. It affects nearly 100 million Americans (about 1/3 of the population) and is Americans’ primary illness on disability. It is no wonder that chronic pain and addiction treatment are often two sides of the same coin for many. With the rise of medical marijuana and prescription opioid abuse, more Americans are at risk of developing an addiction than ever.
The debate over opioid use, overuse, and abuse has been ongoing. While there are few if any solutions forthcoming to solve this national tragedy, for instance, some facts are indisputable:
- The current U.S. prescription opioid epidemic and related overdose deaths is almost exclusively an American disease, emerging from a 40-year history of opioids.
- Prescription opioids are expensive compared to increasingly available street heroin. Some individuals who developed problems with prescription opioids subsequently turned to heroin, producing a new epidemic of heroin addiction.
- Opioids are among the most effective medications for chronic pain.
We are available to help with your recovery and pain management. Call 385-327-7418 today, and talk to one of our specialists about starting your path to treatment.
There is no cure for chronic pain, but you can successfully manage the condition. Chronic pain management, along with addiction treatment, requires specialized therapy.
Opioids: Use with Caution
An opioid is a natural or synthetic drug that has pain-killing qualities. Opioids exert their effects by interacting with the opiate receptors of cell membranes. These drugs are from an opium compound, such as the poppy seed. This class of drugs binds to opioid receptors in the brain and produces feelings of euphoria, calm, and a state of heightened relaxation. Opioids include powerful and illicit recreational drugs (such as heroin and opium) and prescription drugs.
During most of the twentieth century, the widely held perception among professionals in the United States was that the long-term use of opioid therapy to treat chronic pain was irresponsible. Due to the risk of addiction and increased disability physicians, would avoid recommending opioids for the long-term. The body can become addicted to opioids quickly. The drug can cause complicated withdrawal symptoms when someone attempts to stop abusing it. In the United States, numerous opioids are for oral, transdermal, and intravenous administration.
Furthermore, some common street names for opioids include:
- China girl
- China white,
- Dance fever
- Hillbilly Heroin
- Murder 8
- Oxy 80
- Tango and Cash
However, the medicine naloxone can quickly restore normal respiration to a person whose breathing has slowed or stopped due to an opioid overdose. This medication could reverse an opioid overdose’s effects and prevent death if one receives it with enough time.
Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
Opioid therapy is a common approach for treating moderate to severe pain that comes with cancer or other serious medical illnesses. A doctor may prescribe a prescription opioid to reduce pain after a significant injury or surgery.
In addition, you may receive opioids if you have severe pain from health conditions like cancer. Some doctors prescribe opioids for prolonged pain management or for recovering addicts.
Pain in your nervous system (such as a prick, tingle, sting, burn or ache) signals that something may be wrong. Pain may be sharp or dull. You may feel pain in one area of your body or all over.
There are two types of pain: acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain lets you know that you may be injured or have a problem you need to take care of.
The trouble with Chronic Pain
Chronic pain may last for weeks, months, or even years. The original cause may have been an injury or infection. There may be an ongoing cause of pain or discomfort resulting from addiction. Environmental and mental factors can make chronic pain worse.
Chronic pain is not always curable, but treatments can help. There are drug treatments, including pain relievers. There are also non-drug treatments, for example, such as:
- Physical therapy
However, the use of opioids remains questionable due to concerns about side effects, long-term efficacy, and functional outcomes.
Though physicians usually prescribe opioids legally to treat pain, and the drugs can be safe when taken as directed, many have highly addictive properties. The concern of chronic pain and addiction creates a genuine fear, especially if you or a loved one is in recovery.
Marijuana for Chronic Pain
When most people think of marijuana, they probably think of college days, passing around a joint and getting high. However, marijuana is more than just a cheap drug for getting high. Medical marijuana is becoming more important to millions of Americans for a variety of reasons. Cannabidiol (also known as CBD) is an extract from the hemp plant with minimal intoxicating properties. However, unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical that causes the marijuana high, CBD patients experience little, if any, change in consciousness. Some benefits patients report from using CBD include relieving insomnia, anxiety, and erratic behaviors.
Some common use of medical marijuana is for chronic pain management. Qualifying conditions for medical marijuana use, for example, include:
- Nerve pain
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Pain with HIV
Medical Marijuana Benefits
Since medical marijuana is from CBD, it is impossible to overdose on and is less addictive than THC-derived marijuana, and more significantly, opioids. Additionally, someone can use CBD instead of over-the-counter medications like Advil or Aleve, both of which may cause issues with the kidney, ulcers, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). This makes medical marijuana an excellent and much safer choice for pain management for recovering addicts and those with chronic pain and addiction.
Furthermore, weed is currently legal in 29 states and Washington, DC. Not surprisingly, about 85% of Americans support legalizing medical marijuana. As with any treatment, there are possible side effects, including dizziness, slower reaction times, increased appetite, negative drug-to-drug interactions, withdrawal symptoms, and a potential for addiction, to name a few. As with any new or uncertain drug or treatment, patients should discuss this pain management and addiction treatment option with their physician, especially if there are worries concerning chronic pain and addiction.
Pain Management While in Recovery
Providing care for those dealing with chronic pain and addiction presents primary care physicians with unique challenges. When these individuals experience pain, they are less likely to receive adequate pain management than individuals without addiction history. While relapse in a recovering individual may occur despite the appropriate use of opioids and necessary psychotropic medications, inadequate pain relief is also a significant risk factor for relapse.
Moreover, detox is not when pain management is needed but rather when opioids are no longer medically indicated. A recovering individual may fear withdrawal symptoms, which can create a substantial block to successful discontinuation of narcotic medication. Anybody can accomplish successful management of these concerns by slowly tapering medications over several days under close supervision. In some instances, short-term admission to a detoxification unit may be necessary.
Some of the challenges prescribing physicians face include:
- Distinguishing between seeking pain relief and seeking drugs for the euphoric effects
- Identifying predictable neuro-adaptations, such as tolerance and physiologic dependence, that a doctor can misinterpret as drug-seeking or relapse behavior.
- Individuals who also have other mental and medical illnesses that complicate effective pain management
Individuals in recovery seeking pain management must be very open and honest with their healthcare providers about their history of addiction so that the provider can be most effective in managing their pain.
Finally, a suggestion for pain management with opioids for recovering addicts is that providers should include a pre-treatment agreement for random drug screens, one, three, and six months discontinues after pain management stops. Once physicians suspect relapse, management includes offering medical intervention. Recognition and attention to withdrawal concerns, relapse triggers, and co-morbid conditions are essential. In addition, proactive support for long-term recovery is also important.
Treat Your Pain and Addiction
Chronic pain is a significant public health problem, with devastating consequences to patients and families, a high rate of health care utilization, and substantial societal costs related to lost work productivity. An extensive clinical history indicates that long-term opioid therapy can help individual patients better quality of life, less health care, and improved productivity.
The primary treatment for prescription opioid addiction is medication-assisted treatment (MAT). MAT includes medicines, counseling, and support from family and friends. MAT can help you stop using the drug, get through withdrawal, and cope with cravings.
Most opioid abuse treatment methods begin with a detox period, a necessary process that rids the body of lingering, harsh chemicals acquired from prolonged abuse. The detox process typically presents severe withdrawal symptoms, so the best treatment is in an inpatient setting. In-patient centers offer care and support all hours of the day.
Some form of therapy is usually part of a treatment program, such as behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy teaches recovering individuals to form new lifestyles without the burden of substance abuse. The individual usually receives counseling during treatment and should continue therapy throughout aftercare and continuing recovery. Many treatment facilities encompass a full, comprehensive treatment plan that incorporates different treatment options to treat a person’s body, mind, and spirit.
In conclusion, due to the highly addictive quality of opioids, the destructive side effects, and the potential to move on to even more dangerous drugs (such as heroin), recovery and pain management for recovering addicts are complicated and closely monitored. Our highly trained staff is readily available and can assist you with any rehabilitation needs you have, including pain management and addiction treatment. Please call 385-327-7418 today to begin your recovery as soon as possible.
Find Help Now with
Better Help Addiction Care
Your road to addiction treatment recovery starts Here. 24/7 Treatment Monitoring.