People who fight to overcome addiction may not be able to get treatment for pain as some of the most powerful pain medicines carry addiction risk. Addiction recovery from opiates can be challenging but new information exists to support better therapeutic approaches to pain management without opiates.
A new study demonstrates the potential for individuals with addiction to break the cycle through a non-drug approach which combines behavioral therapy and social support to help manage pain. Veterans who received pain-focused care while also receiving treatment for addiction found the intensity of pain decreased and ability to function increased along with a decrease in alcohol use. Veterans who received a less-focused approach did not fare as well but the two groups had similar rates of drug use.
Individuals struggling with addiction require a multifaceted approach which does not only address substance use but also other factors which might drive substance use. It is possible to improve pain outcomes in people with addiction and have a spillover effect on substance use. Addiction treatment programs typically focus on people who suffer from chronic pain but offer few options to treat the issue. Addiction treatment programs have greater success when psychosocial approaches are used including pain specialists.
ImPat (improving pain during addiction treatment) combines elements of cognitive behavioral therapy with another psychosocial approach to therapy. While the two approaches are not often used together, the approaches are used in pain treatment settings but the clinics and programs often don’t accept people who also acknowledge addiction issues. The imPat technique seeks to used integrated approaches both to help people focus less on pain and more on other aspects of life. This includes techniques to help people adapt to pain and find ways of distracting the brain from thinking about pain. There is a strong link between depression and pain. Pain is responsive to mood which can greatly impact a person’s ability to stay focused and positive while functioning at a high level.
The sharp rise in opioid addiction in recent years (often among people who started taking painkillers as treatment for acute or chronic pain) has made the search for effective non-drug pain treatment options even more urgent. Long term opioid use can lead to a hypersensitivity to pain which may have a causal link between medication and pain. More research is needed to understand psychological pain management. People struggling with addiction who want help from the pain may explore a full range of treatment options available to non-addicted persons including physical therapy, exercise and psychotherapy and antidepressant medications. The main goal is to help individuals manage pain in a better, more effective manner that supports better long term health.
Opioid addiction can have serious consequences for individuals and families. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to painkillers, call Hired Power to find out how to locate pain management support and resources on recovery from addiction.
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