man with chronic pain struggles with opioid addiction

What’s the Connection Between Chronic Pain and Addiction?

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The correlation between chronic pain and addiction is evident in the lives of many people who struggle with addiction. The number of people struggling with addiction that stems from struggling with chronic pain is astronomical. The effects that pain can have on a person’s overall well-being can be extreme, leading to changes that can be long-lasting.

Addiction to pain medications is a challenge that can be even more detrimental than pain. Proper understanding and care are crucial to proper management and living a happy and healthy life. 

What is Chronic Pain?

Persistent pain lasting for 12 weeks or longer is considered to be chronic pain. This can be a result of injury or medical procedure. Decreased mobility, changes in appetite, mood, and stress perception can all be effects of chronic pain.

The effects that it can have on a person psychologically can be vast and make daily life extremely uncomfortable and difficult. It can happen anywhere in the body and can cause other ailments to inflame. People struggling with pain from an injury, for example, can experience pain from headaches, arthritis, as well as nerve and joint pain.

They could also experience insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Struggling with chronic pain and addiction can lead to further complications that can affect all areas of a person’s life.

Prescription Meds for Chronic Pain

A variety of medications are used in the treatment of chronic pain. These can include things like anti-inflammatories, steroids like prednisone, muscle relaxers, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants. Because the effects of chronic pain can be so far-reaching, and cause psychological effects, antidepressants are used in the management of symptoms associated with depression due to the pain. 

In the treatment of chronic pain, opioid pain medications are often prescribed to help manage the condition. Opioids are medications that bind to opioid receptors and alter the perception of pain. This alleviates the feeling of physical pain. These receptors are responsible for different functions within the body that include stress management, reward, mood, gastrointestinal function, mood, and breathing.

The central nervous system (CNS), where these receptors can be found, is affected by the use of opioids. This leads to slowed motor function, slurred speech, and slowed breathing. Education on the dangers of using opioids in the treatment of chronic pain is essential for preventing complications. 

How Patients Become Addicted

Chronic pain and addiction can go hand in hand, especially when opioids are involved. Opioids are one of the most commonly abused drugs in the country. The effects of opioids include a sense of euphoria and relaxation. These effects are the reason why opioids are so widely abused.

Using opioids regularly can result in a tolerance to the drug. With tolerance, the chronic pain conditions can feel like they are getting worse. This often results in people misusing the drug by taking more than prescribed to find relief.

As more and more of the drug is being used, the body becomes dependent on the substance. When the drug runs out, the body is then shocked by the lack of opioids and a person can begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable and debilitating.

Struggling with chronic pain and addiction can be a difficult undertaking that can be extremely difficult to overcome. 

Signs of Addiction

Addiction to opioids can lead to extreme life changes. The effects of addiction are far-reaching and can result in broken trust, loss of relationships, job loss, and homelessness among others. Opioid addiction is a leading cause of overdose, both fatal and non-fatal, and knowing what to look out for can help a person find the right help before addiction’s effects become too far-reaching.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Mood swings
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Nodding in and out of consciousness
  • Using medication in ways not prescribed
  • Lying about usage
  • Hiding usage
  • Isolation
  • Avoiding friends and family
  • Stealing
  • Trouble with law enforcement
  • Running out of medication early
  • Doctor shopping
  • Trouble with work or school
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Cravings
  • Using despite negative consequences
  • Engaging in risky activities

Identifying the signs of potential opioid abuse in loved ones can help them get help before they harm themselves or someone else. Getting proper help is crucial to ensuring a person’s safety and continued support and recovery. 

Managing Pain Medication

Understanding how to properly manage pain medication is vital to avoiding negative results. The first thing to do is always consult with a medical doctor. Any medication that is prescribed should be taken as prescribed and continually monitored medically.

If there is any fear or worry, having someone trustworthy to dispense these medications can help, and if there is any concern, people taking these medications should consult their physician and get help as soon as possible.

Overcoming Addiction

Chronic pain can be a catalyst leading into the world of addiction. This can turn into a life-altering struggle that can seem impossible to overcome. From broken trust to homelessness, the effects of addiction can touch every aspect of a person’s life. There is help available for those who are struggling. At Ocean Hills, we offer comprehensive care for those individuals struggling with addiction to find hope.

Call us today and begin a journey to a new life.


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