Many people fall into the traps of physical drug dependence after receiving prescription opioid pain medication. Once a person discontinues the use of these medications and enters into a life of sobriety, they face unique challenges in managing the pain for which they were originally prescribed narcotic medication. Fortunately, new research is being done in the areas of non-narcotic pain medication and pain management for men and women who suffer from the disease of addiction. Chronic pain for men and women in recovery is a serious concern, as it can cause one to relapse in attempt to find relief. Seeking professional help may be a necessity, but physicians must be made aware that, as men and women with the disease of addiction, we have what The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous refers to as a “physical allergy” to drugs and alcohol. Some physicians may prefer to use opioid as a first course of action to control pain, but Dr. Miles Belgrade of the Fairview Pain Management Center, in a 2012 ACP Scientific Meeting, explained that opioid are not the default chronic pain treatment because “they don’t address the physiological mechanisms of pain, they have not been shown to improve function, they have not been studied in longer-term trials, they can cause a state of hyperalgesia”, and “studies suggest patients may have worse quality of life and higher pain levels” when using opioids. An informed physician should have a number of alternatives capable of providing pain relief without the use of narcotics. Dr. Dan L. Longo, in his New England Journal of Medicine article “Opioid Abuse in Chronic Pain—Misconceptions and Mitigation Strategies”, lists several alternative treatments for chronic pain: there are the nonpharmacological, comprising cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise therapy, and complementary medicine such as yoga, meditation, and acupuncture; nonopioid analgesics such as acetaminophen, nonselective nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cyclooxygenase-2 inhibitors, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants; interventional and neural-stimulation therapies such as epidural injections or brain, spinal cord, and nerve stimulation; and biofeedback, including electromyography to teach patients control over muscle tension and to learn to influence brain signals to modulate pain. Choosing to live a life free from narcotics does not mean a person must live with physical pain. If we are honest about our disease and inform our physician that we are unable to take narcotics, we will be able to explore a variety of options to create a course of treatment that will address our pain without risking our sobriety.
You can make the choice to change the story of your life. Oceanfront Recovery is a treatment center with a professional and compassionate staff of detoxification specialists dedicated to making the process as comfortable as possible. For more information about Drug and Alcohol Detox Programs or other treatment options, please call: (877) 279-1777