Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Balance of Chronic Pain Management and the Threat of Prescription Pill Dependency

Wordle: Chronic Pain and Prescription Pill Addiction


 By 
Chris Newcomb, M.Div.

There are a growing number of people who are suffering with chronic pain issues and have sought out 'pain management' facilities to help them manage their pain.  In theory, this seems like a logical choice.  In reality, many patients walk away with their pain controlled in the short-term while an addiction to prescription pills is unleashed for the long-term.  These patients are caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place.  They have legitimate pain but they can't get any relief.  They seek legitimate medical advice but oftentimes those legitimate doctors, while well-intentioned, are clueless about how highly addictive the medications they prescribe on a daily basis can be to their patients.  This creates a huge issue for all involved.  

For the patient, the pain is regulated or normalized at first.  Relief is finally in sight.  However, if the patient's brain is susceptible to addiction, danger is lurking ahead.  Eventually, those medications will begin to lose their effectiveness leaving the patient in pain once again.  Here is the crossroads between addiction and non-addiction: the choice to continue using a dose higher than prescribed or to go back to the prescribing doctor to reassess treatment options.  If a chronic pain patient's brain is susceptible to addiction, there is only one choice: go full steam ahead and increase the dosage past the one given on the original prescription.  Not only is this dangerous from a general health perspective, it is most certainly the way to seal the deal and become completely addicted to the pain medication prescribed. 

For the doctor, they are usually well-meaning when they seek to relieve a patient's chronic pain.  The problem is many of them do not have extensive training in the field of addiction.  They leave themselves open to litigation for malpractice suits.  Some of them simply don't care and operate what are known as 'pill mills' wherein you pay cash, explain your symptoms and a prescription is written for you no questions asked!  

Certainly this problem will not be solved overnight due to a multiplicity of complex factors.  However, there is another way!  Chronic pain patients would be smart to investigate the long-term effects of pain medications BEFORE they begin a regimen as prescribed by a doctor.  Ultimately, only the patient can decide the level of their pain and how much they can actually stand before they need medical assistance with it.  There are new treatment modalities that are showing promise in lessening chronic pain over the long-term.  Patients would do well to be open-minded about other possibilities such as, but not limited to, Yoga, Tai Chi, Massage, Psychotherapy, Exercise, Tapping, Meditation and many more.  

We often see chronic pain patients needing to be detoxed off of prescription pills who report afterward their detox that their pain is not what they remember it to be.  Many even report that their pain has actually improved once they got clean for good.  Pain pills are not the only game in town when it comes to managing chronic pain!

What is most important is finding balance.  Finding a balance between how bad the physical pain really is and how much and what type of medicine is needed to ease that pain to create a life worth living.  Underestimating the power of other pain treatment modalities can leave someone addicted and worse off than when they first started.

At The Coleman Institute, we care about people who struggle with chronic pain.  We may not be able to feel your physical pain but we want to help you get rid of the addiction that is making it worse.  We offer a safe place of non-judgment so you can get the help, hope and healing you need.  If you or someone you love needs to detox off opiates, alcohol, benzos, Methadone, or Suboxone, please do not hesitate to call Jennifer Pius or Amy Stewart at 1-877-773-3869. 

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