Underlying Issues of Addiction: Pain

The roots of addiction run deep, and it is estimated that at least of half of all people who struggle with substance abuse disorders are also coping with an underlying problem such as anxiety, trauma, ADHD, emotional abuse or depression. While underlying issues often involve emotional or mental pain, physical pain should never be overlooked as a powerful trigger for substance abuse and addiction.

Pain affects sleep and makes it difficult to enjoy day-to-day life, which can, in turn, trigger anxiety or depression. Addiction can result when people turn to drugs or alcohol not to get high, but simply to ease the pain. In fact, addiction often begins with medication prescribed by a doctor to treat pain associated with surgery, an injury, or chronic pain such as headaches or back pain. As time goes by, a vicious circle develops as the effectiveness of the medication wears off and people take more and more of the medication to achieve the same level of pain control – a process known as “tolerance.”

Treating Addiction when Pain is involved

Treating addiction associated with pain is “normal daily business” for experienced addiction professionals. Withdrawal can intensify pain and make it less likely that clients will comply with treatment. In fact, many people who struggle with pain and addiction are hesitant to seek treatment for fear of severe pain and discomfort they fear can result from giving up pain medication.

We always identify and treat the underlying pain along with the addiction because addressing one problem but not the other doesn’t work. Treating the addiction alone may appear to work for a short time, but long-term sobriety is difficult because people who haven’t learned better ways of managing pain will often turn back to addictive substances in order to feel better.

Medically supervised pain treatment can manage pain so that clients are safe and comfortable during withdrawal of addictive substances. As they leave the system, clients can learn effective, safe methods for managing pain, which may include adequate pain medication, sometimes even surgery, certainly rest, ice, heat, massage, stretching, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, gentle exercise and stress management techniques. Through counseling and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) clients learn to identify and change thinking patterns, pain- education can help to understand the complex interactions between addiction and physical pain.

We Always Address Addiction and Pain Simultaneously

If you are struggling with addiction and pain, our comprehensive and empathic as well as knowledgeable treatment can help you learn to make better decisions and develop new strategies for managing pain without drugs and alcohol.

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