Dealing with Chronic Pain and Addiction
How can someone deal with not only chronic pain but an addiction problem, such as opioids? What help is out there?
Chronic pain is a common condition that affects more than 3 million people or 25% of adults every year in the US. It can last for months or years, and it happens to all parts of the body. Chronic pain can interfere with everything in your daily life. It can affect your job, social life, ability to care for yourself and others. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and sleep deprivation or make existing mental health issues much worse.
Chronic pain can include joint or arthritis pain, back pain, neck pain, cancer or tumors, migraines, testicular pain, or muscle and nerve pain (fibromyalgia). It can be caused by an accident, injury, or disease, and it can occur as a result of psychological factors such as stress. Chronic pain can also occur due to a long-term addiction to opioids.
Chronic Pain and Opioid Abuse
There are different treatments available for chronic pain, but the most effective approach seems to be a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and therapy.
The most common class of medications used to treat chronic pain is opioids. The CDC reports that the opioid dispensing rate in 2020 was 44 prescriptions per 100 people.
According to the National Institute of Health “Chronic Pain, Chronic Opioid Addiction: a Complex Nexus”:
Opioid therapy is regarded as necessary in the treatment of acute pain, such as post-operative pain. Chronic opioid therapy (COT) is often utilized in palliative care and cancer pain paradigms. However, COT remains controversial for treating chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP), which often leads to physical dependence and may resemble an addictive disorder. Identifying addiction in the complex interaction between chronic opioids and CNCP presents a clinical challenge. Many patients presenting with CNCP, treated with chronic opioids, overlap with people who develop opioid use disorder and require methadone or buprenorphine maintenance. Often, these are the “same people” with different clinical presentations. (NIH)
Chronic pain, opioid use, and addiction are complex nexus, just like an article from the NIH states. And opioids are highly addictive; this is why this country is in the midst of an epidemic.
More About Addiction and Chronic Pain
Much like its common for addiction and mental health disorders to co-occur, it is also common for chronic pain and addiction to co-occur. A person with chronic pain is prescribed opioids. They develop a dependence which can then easily turn into an addiction. In the interim, a person with acute pain is prescribed an opioid; they continue to take it long after the pain is gone because it makes them happy. It relieves their anxiety and depression, so they begin to self-medicate.
They develop an addiction and continue abusing opioids long-term and then develop chronic pain due to their addiction. This can lead to long-term dependence on opioids even after they’ve been through recovery. It is a fact that long-term use of opioids can worsen pain as time progresses.
The National Institute of Health reports that:
Over the last 20 years, there has been a significant increase in the prescribing of opioids for chronic non-cancer pain. There has been a concomitant increase in prescription opioid-associated overdose deaths, emergency department visits related to prescription opioids, and admissions to drug treatment facilities secondary to prescription opioids. The latest data from the CDC report approximately 16,000 overdose deaths related to prescription opioids annually, and total poisoning deaths now outnumber motor vehicle accident deaths. (NIH)
Dealing with chronic pain can be difficult and strongly affect the recovery of an addict. Many people with opioid dependency and the addiction end up on buprenorphine or methadone maintenance treatment as a result. While both of these medications can also be addictive, they have saved the lives of many people suffering from addiction and chronic pain issues.
Start Recovery from Addiction and Chronic Pain at Evoke Waltham
Evoke Waltham offers a safe and comfortable environment for medical detoxification. Our patients are treated extensively so that minimal discomfort is experienced during the detox process. We provide residential treatment in a structured environment and then provide you with after-care support, which is very important when being treated for addiction. Evoke Waltham is here to help you get on the road to long-term recovery.