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Can You Manage Chronic Pain Without Narcotics?

May 18, 2020

The regular use of narcotics to manage chronic pain from an injury, cancer, or surgery may lead to substance use disorders. Looking for relief through safer solutions is an alternative in some situations, but someone stricken with pain daily may not be aware of what options are available beyond the prescribed painkillers they are taking. Today, let’s introduce holistic ways to manage chronic pain without narcotic medications.

The risk of relying on narcotics, such as codeine, morphine, and oxycodone, to manage chronic pain comes from their habit-forming properties as well as serious side effects when mixing these drugs with alcohol or other substances. Alternative interventions to using narcotics include physical therapy, massage therapy, and acupuncture. Treatment centers for patients with addiction to narcotics may introduce alternative measures during rehab, such as biofeedback to teach you how to reduce pain levels and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you reduce your reaction to pain.

What is chronic pain?

Most of us have experienced acute pain lasting a matter of days or weeks. Sufferers of chronic pain know it lasts for several months or more, and it can make functioning at work or at home feel challenging. You may feel less interested in spending time with loved ones, and the pain may interfere with your ability to sleep well.

How does chronic pain often get treated?

You may have managed different kinds of pain over time using different medications. The source of the pain and your level of tolerance for pain may affect your choices for pain meds, from over-the-counter options, including acetaminophen and NSAIDs, for lower levels of pain to prescription medications, such as codeine, morphine, and oxycodone, for more severe pain.

What’s the risk of using narcotics for chronic pain?

There are two main risks of regular use of narcotics for managing chronic pain. The first is the risk of developing a dependence on these prescriptions and using them outside of pain management and in higher doses than prescribed. A second risk comes with mixing these prescription narcotics with alcohol or other drugs and can lead to harmful side effects, including nausea and vomiting, dizziness or loss of coordination, loss of consciousness, and worse.

What alternatives to narcotics for chronic pain management are available?

People suffering from chronic pain have found relief using numerous other strategies to manage the pain without narcotics. Acupuncture is among the options along with physical therapy, massage therapy, and mind-body stress reduction techniques. Taking your mind off the pain can come from distraction strategies or guided imagery to help you reduce pain. Another intervention offering a physical relief of pain is electrical nerve stimulation using electrical impulses to provide that reduction in pain.

Two forms of interventions, also used by some addiction treatment centers, include biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Biofeedback is a way to help you learn to manage pain by controlling blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and more. CBT comes through counseling and reducing your typical reaction to pain can be a goal you set with your CBT professional. As with any alternative intervention, it’s recommended to consult with your physician first to discuss and develop a safe plan.

What’s the response to pain med addiction?

If you have developed an addiction to painkillers, confidential treatment is available. Treatment centers offering a medically supervised detox can help you safely move through withdrawal of the narcotic in your body and avoid the serious complications associated with withdrawal when it’s done at home. Inpatient therapy designed specifically for your particular addiction and circumstances can follow in a private setting with an integrated team of professionals to support you into recovery. Ideally, inpatient treatment will be coupled with sophisticated medical care with onsite doctors and nurses.

HeadWaters Origins is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 844-439-2837.

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