Chronic pain has a profound effect on anyone’s life. If you’re saddled with chronic pain, you may not be able to work or exercise, let alone enjoy life in general.
Pain causes sleep disturbances and, when chronic, often triggers symptoms of depression. In short, life with chronic pain can be miserable.
It’s no surprise that it can also spark substance abuse in some individuals in a desperate attempt to alleviate it. And for those who already struggle with addiction or have a history of drug rehab treatment, treating the pain with medications – which often have a high potential for dependence – becomes a complicated endeavor.
Up to 50 million Americans live with chronic pain at any given time. Coping with it can be so challenging that reaching for alcohol and / or drugs becomes a tempting quick fix. Getting drunk or high provides at least a temporary way to alleviate the intense discomfort and deal with the stress it causes. However, while substance abuse can seem to initially provide relief, it inevitably makes things worse.
Substance abuse and chronic pain require specialized treatment that focuses on both the body and the mind. It’s best to find an addiction facility that is skilled at working with patients struggling with both conditions. An integrated program helps patients manage their pain while reducing the risk of relapse.
Psychotherapy is often a major component of treatment. During therapy, patients learn to identify the factors that play a role in their substance abuse, as well as those that might contribute to chronic pain. They learn to think differently about negative emotions and problems, and are taught ways to cope with them without relying on substances.
If you or someone you love struggles with chronic pain and substance abuse, there is hope. Former counselors can work with your pain management specialist. Together, they will create a plan that addresses both issues effectively so that you’re able to live a more normal life.