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The Relationship Between Chronic Pain and Substance Abuse

The relationship between chronic pain and substance abuse can be almost blatantly obvious. People can begin feeling pain and start by taking over the counter medications to manage the pain. However, when the pain is persistent and progressively getting worse, other forms of medicating the pain may be sought out. Oftentimes, opiate painkillers can be prescribed to help those who suffer from chronic pain. This can be a dangerous path to take, as it can lead to addiction and worse issues than the pain that started it all to begin with.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is classified as pain that lasts for three months or longer. Whether the pain is persistent or comes and goes, if it lasts for three months or more, it is considered to be chronic. Having pain of this nature can cause interference in day to day life, whether it be social, job performance, ability to even work, or being able to complete normal daily functions. Often, it can lead to depression or anxiety. It can also lead to issues with sleep which can make the chronic pain worse. The difference between chronic pain and “regular” or acute pain would be the fact that acute pain is caused when there is a cut or even a broken bone, but it goes away once the body heals itself.

Different types of chronic pain can be categorized as things like arthritis, back pain, neck pain, muscle pains all over the body (such as from fibromyalgia), pain caused by cancers, and headaches or migraines. It can feel like stiffness, aching, burning, throbbing, shooting, or stinging.

Chronic pain can happen to anybody, and approximately 25% of adults in the United States suffer from chronic pain.

Treating Chronic Pain

When it comes to treating chronic pain, medical professionals first seek to find and treat the cause of the pain. If that can’t be accomplished, the next step would be to treat and manage the pain the person is enduring. Lifestyle change and therapies are a good idea, though sometimes they don’t work. The next option is medications. Medications used to treat chronic pain are oftentimes opioid painkillers. Opioids are addictive narcotics, and can lead to dependence. Chronic pain and substance abuse can be correlated by this. Using opioid pain medications to treat chronic pain can lead to substance abuse.

Chronic Pain and Substance Abuse

As previously stated, when it comes to chronic pain and substance abuse, the use of opioid medications can be the leading cause. Once the body becomes dependent on the medications in order to manage or treat the long term pain, it can lead to the body requiring higher and higher doses of the medication to feel pain relief. This is dangerous, as when the medications run out, the pain can seem amplified.

Chronic pain and substance abuse correlates when one’s alcohol consumption increases to deal with pain. Alcohol relaxes the body and numbs the pain. This is not a safe assumption. Increased alcohol consumption can lead to dependence and can lead to requiring medical supervision in order to detoxify the body of the toxins alcohol produces. This can be a highly unpleasant and uncomfortable experience for those enduring it.

Treating Substance Abuse

In order to treat the substance abuse problem, a person should be under medical supervision. Complications and side effects occur when someone tries to end their substance use “cold turkey.” Having professionals on hand that can help to counteract and monitor these symptoms can help to manage the risks associated with drug and alcohol detox.

There are many forms of treatment available for substance abuse. Inpatient detox can be highly beneficial to beginning the process of ending substance abuse. Chronic pain can be hard to manage on your own. Having non-narcotic medications available to help with detox symptoms can be a great start. When trying to end the use of these substances by oneself, there is a high risk of intensely uncomfortable symptoms and higher levels of pain that can lead to relapse if there is no one to talk through the thoughts and feelings associated with alcohol and drug detox.

Therapies, both individual and group, can help to treat chronic pain and substance abuse as well. When considering giving up drugs and alcohol, consider turning to professionals who can best help.

Finding Help for Substance Abuse in South Florida

If you find yourself, or even if it is a loved one suffering with substance abuse, there is help out there. Retreat of Broward boasts a highly professional staff available to help to navigate this life changing decision to end substance abuse. You don’t have to go through this process alone. Contact us today and start on your path to a life free of drugs and alcohol.

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