Managing Chronic Pain and Addiction to Opioid Pain Medication

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Opioid pain medication is highly addictive, but for some, it seems to be the only choice for chronic pain.

According to the Journal of Neuroscience, around 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain, which can range from low-level, continuous pain to severe pain resulting from serious illness or injury. Chronic pain affects every aspect of an individual’s life, and for many, opioid pain medication may be the only source of relief. But it can also be the source of another medical problem: Addiction and dependence.

Treatments for Chronic Pain

Depending on its cause, chronic pain can be treated in a number of ways. These include:

  • Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Acupuncture, which involves inserting needles at pressure points around the body.
  • Nerve blockers that prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.
  • Electrical stimulation that may correct imbalances in the nervous system.
  • Cognitive and behavioral therapies that provide a variety of pain-reduction strategies.
  • Massage, which can help relax muscle tension and increase wellbeing.
  • Biofeedback, which helps individuals learn to manage pain by controlling body functions.
  • Opioid pain medication like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

In most cases, physicians will try a variety of painkiller alternatives before prescribing opioid medications for pain. This is due to the high potential for developing an addiction to opioid pain medication.

Why Are Opiates So Addictive?

Opioid pain medication produces intense feelings of euphoria. That’s because opioids cause the brain to release large amounts of the feel-good brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine is involved in the learning, memory, motivation, and reward processes of the brain, which begins to associate the drug with the pleasure. Opioid pain medication hijacks the normal function of the dopamine system, and the brain begins to crave the opioids. At the same time, thought and behavior patterns are affected, and the result of all of these brain changes is addiction, which is characterized by compulsive drug use despite the negative consequences.

At the same time, dependence often develops. Dependence occurs as the result of the brain’s attempts to compensate for the presence of a drug by changing its chemical function. This results in tolerance, which means that you need increasingly larger doses to get the desired effects. At

some point, brain function may shift so that the brain now operates more comfortably when opioids are present than when they’re not. When you stop using opioids, normal brain chemical function rebounds, and this causes intense withdrawal symptoms.

Opiate Addiction Treatment

Opiate addiction can lead to serious physical and mental health problems, including causing more pain. This is due to the brain changes and changes in the function of the central nervous system that result from opioid misuse. For those who suffer from chronic pain and are addicted to or dependent on opioids, opiate addiction treatment is essential for restoring good health and preventing serious problems down the road. But finding painkiller alternatives is essential for those with chronic pain who are in treatment for addiction.

A number of painkiller alternatives are currently in development, and experts hope that these will reduce America’s reliance on opioids for pain control. A combination of approaches works for many people who suffer from chronic pain, but it can take some time and experimentation to find the right combination. Opiate addiction treatment for those suffering from chronic pain will include a variety of pain control approaches and strategies that can lead to long-term pain relief and an end to the addiction and dependence.

If you suffer from chronic pain and opioid addiction, a high quality opiate addiction treatment program can help you find pain relief and freedom from addiction. BAC can help you find the program that’s right for you.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, get help right away. Make a phone call that will connect you to a professional drug treatment center. The call you make may save your life or the life of someone you love. Call us today at 1.800.429.7690.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26468188