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Can I Use Prescribed Pain Medications in Recovery?

Opioid medications are, unfortunately, often used as the first line of defense against chronic pain. As we have taken on a new life free from drugs and alcohol, we must effectively communicate with our health care provider to seek alternatives to opioid and other addictive medications. Suffering from both addiction and chronic pain presents unique challenges, but there are a variety of alternative treatments that can successfully relieve our pain without presenting a risk to our sobriety.

Using prescriptions opioid medications in recovery can be an extremely dangerous proposition. Dr. Christopher D. Prater, in a 2002 Journal of Clinical Psychology article entitled Successful Pain Management in the Recovering Addicted Patient, explains, “Providing pain control for the 5% to 17% of the U.S. population with a substance abuse disorder of some type presents primary care physicians with unique challenges. When these individuals experience pain, they are less likely to receive adequate pain management than individuals in the general population. While relapse in a recovering individual may occur in spite of appropriate use of opioids and psychotropic medications required for effective pain management, inadequate pain relief is also a significant risk factor for relapse.” One of the defining features of men and women suffering from addiction is that of the “physical allergy,” meaning that once we put a mind or mood-altering substance into our body, we entirely lose control of our ability to regulate our use. Opioid medications will, more than likely, trigger this allergy, and therefore should be used only as a last line of defense after all other options have been attempted.

There are a variety of ways to treat chronic pain that do not rely on medications at all. According to Dr. Seddon R. Savage of Practical Pain Management, “A number of self-management skills can empower patients to effectively address both pain and OUD, among them cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), meditation, group support, and exercise. CBT aims to reduce physical and psychosocial triggers or reinforcers of pain or drug use, and helps patients adapt thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life. Patients with chronic pain and/or OUD often feel overwhelmed, so CBT breaks problems into small, manageable pieces to achieve targeted goals, supporting a sense of mastery and improved self-esteem.” By exploring these alternative, we will likely find one that successfully reduces our pain without putting our sobriety at risk.

Your life doesn’t have to be one of pain and suffering as a result of addiction and alcoholism. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport Louisiana, believes in treating addiction from every possible angle, including the mental, physical, and spiritual. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431