Because chronic pain management is difficult for the majority of patients, doctors prescribe opioid painkillers. Examples include Vicodin, OxyContin, and morphine. However, before long, many patients develop an opioid addiction.
Why Opioid Painkillers Work so Well
Painkillers trick pain receptors into sending false messages to the brain. Whereas the body experiences moderate to severe discomfort, the receptors communicate a message of well-being. Depending on the dose and the patient’s overall physical makeup, opioids can also generate a sense of euphoria. Not surprisingly, pain pill abuse quickly transforms into an opioid addiction.
Developing an Opioid Addiction
While using the medication, many chronic pain sufferers experience a plateau. Their bodies become so used to the substance that the regular dose no longer works well. Frequently, doctors anticipate that the body will build a higher opioid tolerance. At this point, they’ll typically increase the dose.
Once again, the medication works to trick the brain into failing to receive pain signals. With the increased dosage due to physical tolerance, the euphoric side effects heighten, as well. People with an addictive tendency now continue to request refills for the drug, even after their pain subsides. Opioids also manipulate the brain’s reward center to only produce dopamine when the chemical’s present.
When the doctors don’t realize that patients are in the initial drug dependence stages, they’ll continue to prescribe. For those who decide to increase painkiller dosage on their own, the need for additional pills creates a problem. They may go to various doctors to receive scripts or steal prescription pads to forge them. Some take medications from others or graduate to heroin, which costs less.
Overcoming an Opioid Addiction Stemming from Chronic Pain
Many addiction treatment programs fail to address how individuals cope with chronic pain. Participants still need to address the conditions that led them to using opioids in the first place. If they don’t, there’s a high likelihood of relapse when returning to their doctors for pain management assistance.
For this reason, high-quality inpatient rehab programs now offer pain recovery therapy. Because there are many reasons why chronic pain develops, therapists work with program participants to find the underlying causes. They’ve discovered that about 70% of the time, the roots of physical pain come from their emotional reaction to it. These experts also learned that the continued pain pill abuse caused an increased sensitivity to pain.
Treatment of the pain itself starts with an individualized plan. Because each program participant has different needs and pain triggers, therapists must tailor their approaches accordingly. Possible treatment options include biofeedback, acupuncture, aquatic therapy, meditation, and infrared sauna use.
Also, excellent drug recovery programs offer counseling for the opioid addiction, which includes:
- Dual diagnosis treatment to deal with underlying mental health disorders
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) that helps program participants to tackle dysfunctional thought and behavior patterns
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), which shows a lot of promise for overcoming emotional distress
- A family program that assists with the healing of rifts and provides opportunities for making amends
- Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), which focuses heavily on mindfulness
If you’re going through chronic pain and suffer from a painkiller addiction as well, there’s help. At Driftwood Recovery, you’ll overcome your substance abuse and learn to deal with chronic pain differently. Call 866-426-4694 today and take a courageous first step toward recovery!