Pain is the body’s way of telling a person something is wrong. And in this way, it’s something we need to help identify medical issues which need addressing. However, for those living with chronic pain, experiencing pain is constant and debilitating. Chronic pain is characterized as experiencing pain for a time period of 12 weeks or more. This type of pain can be caused by a number of illnesses or injuries.
Experiencing chronic pain isn’t all that uncommon. In fact, according to data collected by the National Institutes of Health, over 23 million people experienced pain for longer than 3 months in the year 2012. That’s over 11% of American adults with long-term chronic pain symptoms.
To treat chronic pain, physicians often prescribe narcotic, opioid medications. And, while these medications do work to relieve symptoms of pain, they are heavily addictive. With long-term use, individuals using these chronic pain medication can and do become physically dependent. Here at Diablo Valley Drug and Alcohol Services, we offer medically-assisted treatment to address physical dependence for patients struggling with chronic pain. Plus, we offer methods to discover alternative ways of managing symptoms of chronic pain. This way, chronic pain patients can establish new, healthy lifestyles free from addictive medications.
There are a number of reasons a person may be experiencing chronic pain. These may include:
Chronic and Acute Injuries: Sometimes, injuries that don’t or cannot heal correctly can lead to long-lasting chronic pain symptoms. For example, herniated disks in the spine after a car accident.
Chronic Illnesses: Often, individuals develop an illness that may affect them for the remainder of their lifetimes. And, these often pair with chronic pain symptoms. Examples may include arthritis, diabetes, tendonitis, cancer, shingles, and multiple sclerosis.
Nervous System Malformation: The nervous system is an intricate interworking of nerves which provide signals to tell us where we’re in pain. When the nervous system isn’t working as it should, it can often send these pain signals when injury or illness is not present. An example of a nervous system malformation that results in symptoms of chronic pain is fibromyalgia.
Deformities: Whether a result of disease or genetics, inoperable physical deformities apparent at birth often lead to a lifetime of experienced chronic pain.
Obviously, for years, our nation has been battling an opioid epidemic. And, it’s a problem that still exists. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 65,000 individuals died from drug or prescription medication overdose in 2015. And, from the years 2002 to 2011, there number of deaths related to prescription opioid use almost doubled.
Unfortunately, those prescribed opioids for chronic pain develop a tolerance for their medications over time. With this experienced tolerance, individuals require a higher dosage to experience the effects that numb the pain. While tolerance may be a normal, expected symptom of taking these medications, taking higher doses and using these medications more frequently is abuse. And, a physical dependence often ensues as a result of this abuse, meaning the individual experiences withdrawal symptoms if they don’t take their medication. Withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating and make symptoms of chronic pain even more intolerable. Often, individuals will take the heightened dose of their medications simply to put off withdrawal and chronic pain symptoms. And, the cycle of addiction continues.
Here at Diablo Valley Drug and Alcohol Services, we understand that chronic pain patients need relief from pain to have a chance at successful rehabilitation and recovery. This is why we offer a medicated approach to treatment. Those who have developed a physical dependence to their pain medications often respond well to a long term Suboxone regimen and applied pain management tools. Basically, individuals are taken off their opioid prescription and transferred to a safer type of opioid (Suboxone). Then, once the individual has established healthy ways of managing pain and has developed a life in recovery, our doctor helps to taper the medication slowly. After a year, patients can become completely free from all medications and begin to live a balanced lifestyle which utilizes alternative methods to pain management.
To talk to us about treatment for a chronic pain patient dependent on prescription medications, contact us today!