Feeling physical pain is just part of the human experience, but sometimes that pain can be chronic, intense, and overwhelmingly difficult to deal with. This is just as true for those who are in recovery and suffer from chronic pain. It may even be harder for those in recovery because you can no longer rely on opiates to treat your chronic pain.
When in recovery, using opiates long-term for chronic pain is not advised. While your intentions, in the beginning, to just use them for treatment of your pain, eventually this will take you back down the road to active addiction and drug-seeking behaviors.
Opiates for Chronic Pain for Individuals in Drug Addiction Recovery?
After all, once you’re an addict, you will always have an addict’s brain. That is just how it is. Opiates are among the strongest and most addictive drugs out there, so it won’t take long for abuse of these pills to begin, even if prescribed by a physician. The fundamentally rewarding properties associated with opiates make it very easy to begin misusing them again.
Why Are Opiates Fully Discouraged For Individuals in Recovery?
The reason why opiates are so addictive is because of their chemical structure and the impact that they have on the brain. Due to their molecular structure, opiate drugs can bind to and activate a specific protein in the brain and body called opioid receptors. When they are activated, your brain’s perception of pain is altered causing analgesic effects.
Opiates also increase the amount of dopamine that is created and that is known to reinforce feelings of reward and pleasure. This is what causes the “high” associated with opiate use. These sensations are so powerful that addiction is very likely.
Alternatives for Managing Chronic Pain in Recovery
Many people may think that opiates are the only helpful option when it comes to controlling chronic pain. However, there are many alternative routes you can take to manage your chronic pain that doesn’t involve putting yourself at risk of falling back into addiction.
Non-opiate drugs: Drugs that are not opioids can be just as helpful for managing chronic pain while also decreasing any option for reliance on opiate painkillers. Non-opiate drug options are not a one fits all solution. Some alternatives will be more effective than others depending on the person and their pain. Options you could try include NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen, Acetaminophen, Glucocorticoid steroids, beta-blockers like labetol or esmolol, and even antidepressants.
Holistic Pain Management: There is also much research showing that non-pharmaceutical pain management methods also provide a lot of relief. There are several different things you could try until you find the best method that provides the most pain relief. You could try acupuncture, which involves inserting small needles into specific points on the body, chiropractic or massage treatment, Yoga, mindful meditation, therapeutic exercises, and even nutritional therapies.
Counseling and Therapies: Physical therapy is the most common and effective aid that people use for chronic pain relief. There are also several kinds of behavioral therapies that can be used like cognitive-behavioral therapy and mindfulness-based stress reduction. These behavior therapies are both known to result in a better psychological change to coping with pain.
Only Complete Abstinence from Opiates Means a Real Recovery
When you suffer from chronic pain and are involved in recovery from addiction, it does not mean that you won’t be able to manage your chronic pain. Even though using opiates for chronic pain relief may not be an option for you anymore many other alternatives don’t cause any sort of addiction or dependence.
Addiction Treatment for Opioid Dependence
If you or someone you love is in recovery from addiction and suffer from chronic pain, you are most certainly not the only one out there and it is entirely possible to find a helpful solution to your problem.