In the world of scientific journals and medical studies, there are dozens of reports about chronic pain all finding the same thing — that it often goes hand in hand with chemical dependency and substance abuse. Of course, each of the researchers, scientists, and doctors have their own thoughts on the matter, but they all pretty much come back to the point that chronic pain starts a vicious cycle that often leads to relying on some type of painkillers. It’s an issue that’s plagued mankind since the pain reducing properties of opium were discovered several millennia ago, and there’s no sign of it going away anytime soon.
Pain and Suffering
Regardless of what type of chronic pain a person may be dealing with, constantly being uncomfortable leads to a loss of both productivity during the day and sleep at night. Without the ability to function at a normal level, people are more likely to turn to controlled substances — whether they’re opioids, alcohol, or even cannabis-based — as a means to cut down on their discomfort and get back to a more regular lifestyle.
Unfortunately, what’s first used in moderation can quickly fall into a pattern of dependency and abuse. Even before true withdrawal symptoms would set in, just going back to the status quo of annoying (or possibly agonizing) pain can be bad enough to keep the painkiller usage going around the clock. The chronic pain sufferers end up having to increase the dosage to get the same result once they’ve become accustomed to the 24-hour usage, and things can quickly spiral out of control from there.
In addition to the physical discomfort, the mental and emotional strain of chronic pain can also play a major factor in developing a chemical dependency. The constant state of discomfort can lead to increased aggression, feelings of hopelessness, depression, and a wide variety of other unpleasant mental states — which are then often exacerbated by lack of sleep — leaving the person even more susceptible to substance abuse than ever before.
Factoring in how quickly chemical dependency can get out of hand for even the healthiest individual, the descent for someone suffering from chronic pain can take over before it is even noticed. The good news is that even the worst case scenarios can be turned around with some help and a push in the right direction from a treatment program that specializes in treating chronic pain without medication.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
Treatment for chronic pain in a comprehensive pain rehabilitation program can include a combination of medical and psychological care, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation and physical and occupational therapy. Although chronic pain may not go away entirely, its severity and the impact on our emotional well-being can be significantly lessened with a comprehensive pain rehabilitation program, coupled with a change in diet, light exercise, and a variety of other lifestyle switches.
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