Treating Addiction While Managing Pain
The abuse of or addiction to prescription painkillers is often a result of chronic pain. While the management of pain is important, so is breaking free from addiction. Thankfully, there are a number of effective pain management tools and techniques that won’t cause the same harmful effects of addictive opioid pain medications.
The Dangers of Long-Term Pain Medication Use and Addiction
Those dealing with chronic pain often just want a quick and effective solution. Opiate painkillers can certainly be effective, but they come with additional risks. While short-term use might be recommended in some cases, long-term painkiller use can quickly lead to addiction.
Narcotics are, quite simply, not a safe long-term approach to pain management. Post-surgery, or when acute pain is the issue, they may be advised. Over time, however, those who take these drugs can become addicted. Their tolerance may rise, requiring ever greater amounts on a regular basis.
With an increased tolerance, addicts will still encounter pain unless their dosage grows. In just a few months, patients may find themselves going to great lengths to secure more narcotic medications.
Addiction to prescription painkillers can cause physical side effects, impact behavior and lead to relationship problems. The high cost can also be a financial burden, particularly if individuals resort to black market or cash purchases simply to fuel their addiction.
Exploring Electro and Temperature Therapy
Two alternatives for pain management that can be tremendously effective are electrotherapy and temperature therapy. These approaches can be very helpful, and neither has any lasting negative effects. This makes them an obvious choice for anyone searching for low-risk pain relief.
Electrotherapy typically uses a low voltage of electricity to stimulate nerve endings. This can boost circulation, and it might stimulate pain relief in the body in an organic, natural way. Electrotherapy has been particularly helpful when it comes to individuals dealing with chronic lower back pain, although it can be used for pain in other parts of the body.
Temperature therapy involves heating or cooling of the skin. In many cases, this can also boost circulation and blood flow, having a positive effect on pain reduction. Temperature therapy is typically used in conjunction with physical exercise for maximum benefit.
Physical Exercise and Pain Management
Asking those in chronic pain to incorporate exercise in their daily lives can be an impossible request. Sometimes, patients feel like exercising is counterintuitive. However, physical exercise of all types can actually go a long way in managing pain.
At the most basic level, exercising can make it easier for patients to sleep well at night. This is key, because many patients in chronic pain report that their discomfort keeps them up at night. Expending more energy in the day can improve sleep, which in turn results in less pain and fatigue the following day.
Regular exercise can also reduce some of the stiffness that accompanies severe or chronic pain. This stiffness makes even small movements feel uncomfortable. Exercise can reduce that stiffness and increase the range of comfortable motion in problem areas.
Of course, physical exercise also has the standard benefits, which can include reducing the likelihood of depression and helping to manage weight. These issues are often tied to pain management and eliminating them can go a long way in delivering comfort and a higher quality of life.
There are many different types of physical exercise that can be beneficial in the management of pain. Water therapy, stretching exercises, resistance training and cardiovascular exercise could all play a role.
Behavioral Therapy Approaches
Much of the perceived pain that individuals feel is actually an emotional reaction to the physical discomfort. Therefore, some of the most effective tools to help manage pain are psychological in nature. Using behavioral therapy like CBT, DBT or ACT can all be helpful in reframing how patients think about and perceive pain.
ACT, or acceptance and commitment therapy, is an evidence-based approach that can improve motivation and teach acceptance. This can often help those in chronic pain be more mindful and accepting of the situation, reducing overall discomfort.
CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is another approach that has the goal of teaching patients how to solve problems. CBT can teach how to employ new strategies that may help individuals perceive pain differently.
DBT, also known as dialectical behavioral therapy, might also be a helpful approach to drug-free pain management. The goals of DBT are to improve mindfulness, increase tolerance to distress and regulate emotions in a healthier, more appropriate way.
While these are the main three approaches to psychological pain management, there are also additional methods that can be effective. These include, but are not limited to:
- Mental pain movement
- Sensory splitting
- Positive or symbolic imagery
Treating Addiction Without Ignoring Pain
Patients who struggle with chronic pain, and who have abuse or addiction issues with narcotic medications, may be afraid to even consider the prospect of treatment. It is important to understand that recovery has two objectives. First is the goal of helping patients abstain from narcotic use. Second, and just as important, is the goal of helping patients feel better.
No one should be afraid of recovery. Breaking a dependence on opioid medications doesn’t inherently mean more pain or more discomfort, at least beyond the first week or so. As the body readjusts to functioning without narcotics, a new threshold and pain tolerance develops. Furthermore, much of the perceived pain can disappear along with the addiction.
As already mentioned above, there are many different techniques and therapies that can help to diminish feelings of pain. In addition, it is important to note that patients in chronic pain can seek alternative medications. There are several pharmacological options that are non-narcotic.
It is possible to begin addiction treatment and still manage pain. No one should be afraid to end a reliance on a narcotic, opioid painkiller because they are concerned about pain. Any temporary discomfort can be alleviated with a range of appropriate methods. Most importantly, health will drastically improve without an addiction or reliance on harmful medications.