Chronic Pain and Addiction: How Are They Related?

There is no shortage of those who suffer from chronic pain in the United States. The number of individuals who deal with chronic pain is up to 50 million. Chronic pain is difficult to control and most people misunderstand it. Some doctors will prescribe opioids for pain relief (it’s often their go-to choice), but oftentimes those who are misprescribed opioids wind up becoming addicted to them. Of the individuals who were prescribed opioids to deal with chronic pain or other conditions, 2 million people developed an opioid addiction.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is a consistent pain that extends farther than the usual time it takes a person to recover from a health condition. In addition to this, there are health conditions in which chronic pain is the primary symptom, like arthritis. Sometimes those who experience chronic pain do so sporadically over a long period; alternatively, a person with chronic pain would suffer continuously. This has the potential to negatively impact someone’s everyday life.

chronic pain and addictionWhy Does Chronic Pain Occur?

Chronic pain is a very difficult condition to deal with and to treat it, it’s probably best to attack the source. But what is the source? Why does chronic pain even exist? It’s not always the case that we’ll know why someone is suffering from chronic pain. However, according to research, it occurs mostly when there is a disease or medical condition present. 

When someone has a disease or medical condition and it alters the central nervous system, chronic pain may become present. Because of this, a person becomes more sensitive to pain. In addition to this, a person may also experience chronic pain from a sports injury or a previous surgery. However, it is worth noting that there is a massive difference between acute pain and chronic pain in this regard. 

What is the Difference Between Acute Pain and Chronic Pain?

Acute pain occurs when a person suffers from an injury for a short period. This sort of pain doesn’t last too long and happens immediately after an inciting incident. For example, someone who stubs their toe or breaks a bone will suffer from acute pain. This pain stops once the injury has been healed. 

On the other hand, chronic pain is much more severe and longer-lasting. Chronic pain is more so a medical condition or disease. This is typically identified and diagnosed by healthcare professionals after 3 or so months have gone by and the pain has continued.

What Medical Conditions Cause Chronic Pain?

  • Migraines
  • Lower back pain (LBP) 
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Fibromyalgia 
  • Shingles

Managing Pain in Addiction Treatment

Suffering from chronic pain is a difficult thing to deal with; it becomes even worse when addiction is thrown into the mix. How does this happen? Well, the answer is simple. When someone suffers from chronic pain, they’re either likely to self-medicate with alcohol or painkillers, or they’ve been prescribed a painkiller by a doctor. If this isn’t watched and monitored closely and sensitively, a person may develop a dependence, and then an addiction.

At Little Creek Recovery, we know that situations like these are a possibility. We know that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for addiction and chronic pain. This is why we take medical detox very seriously. 

Treatments For Chronic Pain and Addiction

Medical Detox

Medical detox, otherwise referred to as medically assisted treatment (MAT), is a method of care for addiction. For those who have become dependent or addicted trying to manage their chronic pain, MAT helps in great ways: under the supervision of a medical professional, those in a MAT program will be able to take medication that helps curb their withdrawal symptoms.

MAT is not the end-all-be-all, however. Once the work is finished, other programs like therapy may be necessary to supplement one’s treatment. Individual therapy, group therapy, and holistic care are great ways to follow-up detox treatment. For many, this is the key to mitigating any existing cravings.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy is a method of treatment in which a person is spending time with a counselor one-on-one. Professionally licensed therapists will help you get down to why an addiction was developed in the first place. Not only that but there are other underlying issues a therapist may be able to point out and help you work through.

Group Therapy

Group therapy is for those who need a more cooperative and collaborative approach. In group therapy, those who suffer from chronic pain will be paired with others who have experienced similar struggles. A counselor will usually mediate these meetings and allow people to discuss their struggles or victories in the past week’s time. 

Holistic Care

Holistic care is a great alternative to traditional treatment methods. In this form of care, the entirety of a person’s being (body, mind, and soul) is taken into account on how to treat them. Some forms of holistic care may include yoga, exercise, mediation, massage, or nutritional therapy. 

Drug Abuse in Pennsylvania by the Numbers

When it all boils down to the numbers, Pennsylvania is in a tough spot. Some studies have shown that heroin and prescription opiates are responsible for close to half of all treatment admissions. When you consider how much of that must have been either self-medication or prescription from a doctor to treat chronic pain, it’s a bit disheartening. Not only that, but the past decade has seen over 10% of its death rate come from drug and alcohol abuse. What’s worse is that among these, over 2,500 were aged 12-17.

Do You Suffer From Chronic Pain and Addiction? Call Today

At Little Creek, we know that it’s possible to become addicted as a result of chronic pain. We know that not every treatment journey is the same; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. That’s why from the moment you walk through our doors, we try our best to find an individualized treatment option for you. If you, a family member, or a loved one is suffering from chronic pain and addiction and would like to find out more, you can contact us here.


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