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Alternative Pain Management Techniques

Dr. Gerardo Sison

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Gerardo Sison

April 1, 2019

A growing number of drug rehab centers are turning to pain management techniques as a valuable part of their recovery processes. If you or someone you know is suffering from the literal pain of addiction, read on to learn more. It might just provide the information necessary to begin the walk down the path of recovery.

People who have never suffered from addiction rarely stop to think about how painful it is for those it affects. Addiction causes a variety of physical pains that make life difficult and which, sadly enough, often compel people to continue using substances. This creates a cycle that makes quitting nearly impossible for many people and often leads to an increase in drug use.

The Ways That Addiction Causes Pain

Using drugs or drinking alcohol seriously impacts your body and will eventually begin causing you physical pain. Pain caused by addiction is often blunted due to the painkilling effects of some drugs, but this self-medication technique is actually more dangerous. After all, if you accidentally break your toe while on heroin and can’t feel it, you might not get the treatment you need and suffer from a more serious problem.

The following are just a few of the ways that doing drugs will cause you serious physical pain. Though by no means complete, it should give you an idea of how seriously you are hurting your body each time you abuse drugs or alcohol:

  • Smoking drugs (including tobacco, marijuana, and crack) can cause serious lung pain, increase your heart rate (causing chest pains), and even cause lung infections and cancers
  • Drinking alcohol, snorting cocaine, and injecting heroin can damage your kidneys and fleshy tissues, leading to severe pain
  • Regularly injecting drugs will injure your veins, potentially causing vein collapse and chest pain
  • Taking drugs or drinking alcohol cause nausea and vomiting, which can cause damage to your mouth and teeth
  • Living your life while impaired may cause you to injure yourself, either through falls or other accidents
  • Using needles regularly will cause blisters and cuts on your arms, leading to pain – even worse, they can contribute to infections and infectious diseases

As you can imagine, this pain has a way of compiling and becoming more serious. Unfortunately, you may be compelled to continue taking drugs to kill that pain. You can’t fall into that pattern. It is important to go to a drug rehab facility that will treat your addiction and manage your pain in a safe and healing manner.

The Problems With Painkillers And Addiction

You might imagine that many rehab centers would just use painkillers to alleviate your pain symptoms. However, that is rarely the case, especially if you are suffering from opioid addiction. Many painkillers use opioids because they are the most potent way to eliminate pain quickly. Unfortunately for a person in rehab, access to these kinds of painkillers often serves as an impossible to ignore temptation.

In fact, many of these painkillers are addictive if used excessively. As a result, your body won’t be clean of addictive substances during your rehab stay, making it less effective. Walking out of rehab having beaten heroin addiction, only to fall victim to a morphine addiction, is a tragedy. Unfortunately, it is one that is sweeping the nation: recent estimates claim that 15,000 Americans die every year due to painkiller addiction.

Successful Pain Management In Cases Of Addiction

Treating addiction pain requires first gauging its seriousness. Pain is gauged on a 1-10 level, with low level pain from 1-3 or 4), moderate pain, (5-7) and high levels (8-10) being treated in different manners. Pain at a “1” level is minor, such as a small headache or a light cramp. When pain is at a “10” level, this is catastrophic pain that threatens a person’s life, such as severe withdrawal spasms or burns.

In the case of mild pain, you receive treatments like acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors. These medications are designed to treat mild pain and prevent it from becoming worse. Just about everyone experiences some form of mild pain in a day, and most of its treatments should be readily available without approval from a rehab authority.

Moderate pain is often treated by persistent doses of the previously mentioned mild pain medications. Depending on the severity of the pain and how it affects you, you may also receive very weak opioid pain medications, like codeine, in controlled doses. You’re not likely to receive more than one dose of that type in a day, to help prevent addiction.

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However, if you experience severe pain, opioids like morphine are likely to be used. Your health and well-being in these extreme situations overwhelm any concerns of potential addictions. You’re most likely to require these types of drugs if your opioid withdrawal gets too severe to handle or if you suffer from a severe accident. Thankfully, these types of incidents are rare.

Beyond the use of medications is alternative treatments, such as yoga, exercise, and meditation. These treatments are designed to work your body and help it move through any mild pain symptoms. Typically, yoga and meditation aren’t very helpful against moderate or severe pain, but can help prevent mild addiction pain from spiraling into more serious conditions.

Finding Rehab Centers With Pain Management Techniques

The increased prevalence of addiction and the increased understanding of the pain it causes has forced many rehab centers to expect pain management. As a result, most offer some form of pain management using techniques that will vary depending on your addiction and the type of pain you feel.

They are always going to use the least powerful treatment possible. For example, in cases of cramps and stiffness, a regimen of exercise like yoga may help alleviate some pain. Exercise will naturally produce painkilling chemicals that will reduce pain symptoms without increasing the risk of addiction.

Other management techniques, such as non-steroidal pain medicines, may also be used on a controlled basis. However, if you suffer from severe pain, especially from withdrawal, the use of continual opioid replacement medicines may be necessary. This will help decrease your pain and get you through the difficulties of withdrawal. As your pain decreases, your dosage will be reduced to help wean you off. Treating your pain in this way helps decrease the chance of suffering from relapse.

Getting The Help You Need

Addiction is a painful problem and one that requires a multi-faceted treatment approach. Treating your pain is just the first step in the process, but one of the most important. If you are interested in learning more about rehabs with pain management techniques and how they can help you recover, please contact us at today.

Our expert counselors will work with you hand-in-hand to eliminate your addiction and give you the life that you deserve to live. It won’t be an easy or immediate process, but it is one that we’ve helped thousands of people finish. You deserve the peace of mind of a drug-free life.

National Institute On Drug Abuse - Drug Abuse Hurts Bodies

Medicine Net - Drug Abuse And Addiction

The Guardian - Painkiller Addiction: The Plague That Is Sweeping The US

US National Library Of Medicine National Institutes Of Health - Successful Pain Management for the Recovering Addicted Patient

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