Addiction is a complex issue. Addiction and chronic pain together becomes far more complex. Many people want to believe that the cause of an addiction is simple and only has to do with poor choices and a lack of self-control. The truth is that addiction usually has deep-rooted causes, and most addictions result from trying to self-manage those issues.
Sometimes, the person entering rehab has an addiction as well as an underlying mental health condition. Addiction recovery centers often refer to this as a dual diagnosis issue, also known as a co-occurring disorder.
It is common for those suffering from these conditions to turn to drugs to manage their symptoms. But mental health issues are not the only underlying cause for dual diagnosis. Addiction can be a result of other physical conditions as well.
Addiction caused by chronic pain
Many underlying medical conditions can lead to chronic pain. There are even mental conditions that can lead to physical pain. Whatever the result, chronic and constant pain are hard for anyone to manage. This struggle can lead to an addiction to pain medications.
Doctors are often quick to prescribe strong pain medications to their patients to help them get relief from the pain. Sadly, many of these doctors actually overprescribe these medications, and the end result is an addiction, not actual physical relief from the pain.
The brain begins to have physical changes occur after seven consecutive days of taking opioids. This is a well-known fact in the medical industry. Yet, the standard painkiller prescription for these strong opiates is ten days. By day 10, the person will experience withdrawal symptoms when the prescription runs out.
How the addiction begins
At this point, there is a potential for addiction to begin. If the cause of the pain has not been addressed and the patient is still suffering, the doctor may prescribe more. If the patient does not receive more medication and is still in pain, they may seek outside sources for relief.
What is an even harsher reality is that over time, the brain becomes addicted to opiates. Even if the issue causing the chronic pain has healed or is being treated through other methods, the brain will continue to signal that the body is in pain so that the pain medication treatments can continue.
This is what addiction does to the body and the brain.
Entering a treatment program
When you enter into a treatment program, part of the program is a complete health evaluation. Your substance abuse counselor will work with you to see if there are underlying conditions that are contributing to the addiction, such as a mental health condition or a physical condition like chronic pain.
During your dual diagnosis treatment program, you will get the help you need to manage these underlying conditions. There may be many other options for you to manage chronic pain outside of opiate medications. Many people are so relieved to discover that they can feel physically better without having to rely on opiates, and it makes breaking the addiction easier for them.
Addiction is not a sign of failure
Addiction is often a sign of frustration, not failure. Finding the root cause of chronic pain can be challenging. Every person is different, and the causes and pain tolerance to different conditions will vary. Sadly, some doctors do not have the dedication to finding the cause of the pain and will either treat it using a blanket treatment of opiate pain killers, even if this is too strong, or will not treat it at all, leaving the patient in pain and frustrated. This frustration can lead to self-medicating and addiction.
Part of a quality rehab program will be digging deeper into the causes of the physical pain you are experiencing. Many people are thrilled when they discover that the chronic pain they thought they would have to live with forever can be cured through diet, exercise, or daily routine changes.
Yes, simple things like that can lead to pain relief.
Drug rehab programs have developed into whole-health treatment. When you feel better physically and mentally, it is easier to overcome addiction and stay sober. You can face the world without struggling to manage your addiction and chronic pain issues on your own. Beating addiction is more than overcoming physical withdrawal from a drug or alcohol. It is about healing your entire self inside and out so that you can live your best life ever.