Chronic pain is “pain that lasts for 12 weeks or longer,” typically following an injury or procedure. A person suffering from chronic pain can experience a pinching sensation in some parts of the body, as well as:
- Back pain
- Breathing difficulties
- Cancer pain
- Nerve pain (Fibromyalgia)
- Joint pain
- Post-trauma pain
Post-trauma pain causes include pain from car crashes, medical operation injuries, and other physical traumas instead of injuries that emotional or mental trauma can cause.
Conditions That Often Require Medication
Chronic pain often necessitates the use of several drugs, some of which have side effects that can interfere with everyday activities. Conditions like fibromyalgia, which causes chronic fatigue, bone pain, and tenderness, for example, can not only cause chronic pain but can also be emotionally exhausting. Chronic pain can also be caused by health issues such as:
- Endometriosis (Uterine Fibroids)
- Intestinal Cystitis
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Inability to move around, emotional frustrations due to ongoing pain, appetite changes, and muscle tension are all signs of chronic pain. The groups most likely to suffer from chronic pain include women, obese people, tobacco smokers, and people with injuries.
Chronic Pain Treatment and Medications
The common treatments for chronic pain include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medications. Patients who need assistance walking or performing everyday activities receive hands-on aid in physical therapy. In other cases, doctors prescribe medication to patients and encourage them to make healthier lifestyle changes to improve their posture, energy levels, and stress levels.
The following are some of the most common medications used to treat chronic pain:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Muscle relaxers
- Steroids (Prednisone)
Some patients may need an anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxant if Advil isn’t enough to relieve chronic pain. Muscle relaxants have the potential to become addictive in specific individuals.
Antidepressants are used to treat people who are depressed, but they can cause withdrawal symptoms when patients stop taking them. Chronic pain and addiction are becoming more prevalent around the world.
Chronic drug abuse in response to chronic pain is one of society’s most pervasive problems. Self-medicating with pain relievers, cocaine, alcohol, and other drugs can lead to even more severe health problems. A significant grant from the National Institutes of Health is funding new studies into drug abuse and possible alternatives.
Chronic Pain and Substance Misuse
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 115 million Americans aged 12 and up abused prescription painkillers in 2016. In the same year, 946,000 people aged 12 and up in the United States used heroin. The number of heroin-related overdose deaths in the United States increased by 533%, to 13,219, between 2002 and 2016.
Many people who abuse medications do so or at least began doing so due to chronic pain. Pain management is becoming more complicated, and when drug abuse comes into the picture, it can lead to even more issues and higher healthcare costs.
Opioids are highly addictive, and you should only use them as a last resort because they can cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawing from a prescription of opioids may have unpleasant side effects, similar to antidepressants, leading to addiction relapse. You should discuss your medications with your doctor due to the addictive nature of such drugs.
Patients with chronic pain and other injuries who switch from prescription medications to street drugs are also at the root of the opioid epidemic. As a consequence, there is a complex relationship between substance addiction and chronic pain.
Doctors prescribe opioids to treat chronic pain because they bind to opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in sensations of euphoria and relaxation in the body. This dramatically decreases discomfort, but it can also lead to tolerance or, worse, dependency.
Since there is a chance that a chronic pain patient will develop an opioid use disorder, it is essential to understand how to treat pain medication and be on the lookout for signs of misuse.
Opioid Tolerance, Dependence, and Abuse
When a person is under prescription for opioids like oxycodone or hydrocodone for pain, they feel relieved and incredibly relaxed, even happy. After the patient has begun to recover, he or she will yearn for those feelings. It’s easy to see how the body has become used to having such chemicals in the system if the patient has been taking prescription opioids for months or years.
When a patient has used a drug for a long time, they develop a tolerance to it and need a higher dosage to feel the same effects. In a situation where one uses a specific drug to feel “natural,” mainly when they stop using it, they have developed a dependency. They may then experience nausea, irritability, remorse, exhaustion, shame, sweating, secrecy, and overdoses.
Misuse occurs when a person’s mental and emotional well-being is dependent on a drug. This means the individual takes opioids for the emotional “feel good” or “excitement” rather than medical reasons. Furthermore, if the medication is not present, he or she behaves unusually or unlike themselves.
Research for Chronic Pain Treatment
The National Institutes of Health recently awarded a $1.8 million grant to researchers at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine. Lawrence Tool, Ph.D., a biomedical science professor, will be in the lead of the thesis titled “Mixed NOP/MU Compounds and the Involvement of Their Receptors in Analgesia.”
Changes in the NOP receptor in the spinal cord, brain, and dorsal root ganglia will be closely examined in this new research to see how they contribute to the treatment and development of chronic pain. Dr. Toll has previously gained international recognition for co-discovering nociception, a neuropeptide that plays a role in the incentive and reward processes associated with drug abuse.
In conjunction with other studies, Dr. Toll has stated that this NIH grant allows his team to classify different compounds in different in vivo profiles that have a great affinity for both NOP and mu-receptors. The aim is to provide more non-opioid pain management options shortly, reducing the need for opioids in the long run and potentially reducing drug abuse.
Signs and Symptoms of Drug Addiction
People with substance use disorder often abuse drugs interchangeably. This condition is characterized by four symptoms: impaired function, unsafe use, social disability, and pharmacological requirements.
Based on a person’s actions over 12 months, medical professionals use these measures to identify and treat drug use disorders. Substance use disorders are then categorized into various medication groups, such as alcohol use disorders and opioid use disorders.
Addiction is a condition that consumes a significant amount of a person’s time, energy, and money. Addiction manifests itself in a variety of physical, behavioral, and emotional manifestations. Treatment can be a stepping stone to long-term rehabilitation if you or a loved one exhibits a combination of these symptoms. The first step in recognizing addiction is to search for signs and symptoms of substance abuse.
Most brain mechanisms and systems involved in addiction are often also involved in cognitive activities such as thought, learning, and memory. An individual who takes many drugs may have trouble understanding or recalling things and may lose concentration while working on a task. Long-term drug use can affect mental health in addition to short-term physical and psychological effects.
Without an awareness of the symptoms of addiction, recognizing a drug addiction can be challenging. Substance use disorders can alter a person’s appearance, attitudes, and feelings. The addiction symptoms can be physical, mental, or psychological.
Fortunately for worried family members and friends, addiction has many readily recognizable traits, and many different forms of opioid addictions have similar signs and symptoms. If you know the signs and symptoms of addiction, you may be able to assist a friend or family member who is suffering from the disorder.
When someone abuses drugs or alcohol, they can show a variety of physical signs. Some of these symptoms are evident, but others are not and appear gradually.
The following are some of the most common physical symptoms of addiction:
- Frequent runny nose
- Poor personal hygiene
- Tremors or seizures
- Marks on the skin
- Loss of physical coordination
- Bloodshot eyes
- Irregular sleeping patterns
- Extreme lethargy
- Changes in appetite and eating habits
- Chemical odor on breath or clothes
- Changes in weight
- Pinpoint pupils
An individual who abuses drugs or alcohol may not only alter their physical appearance, but they may also behave differently. There are several behavioral signs of opioid abuse, and here are a few of the most notable:
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
- Financial issues
- Shifts in social circles
- Neglecting responsibilities
- Reduced participation in family activities
- Poor performance in work or school
- Secretive behavior
- Repeated lying and dishonesty
- Legal issues
Changes in a person’s thought habits, behaviors, values, and goals are all psychological indicators of substance addiction. The following are some of the most common psychological symptoms of drug and alcohol abuse:
- Changes in personality traits
- Feelings of apathy or disinterest
- Dismal outlook on or attitude toward life
- Mental illness like anxiety or depression
- Lack of motivation
- Paranoid, fear, or obsessive thoughts
- Withdrawing emotionally from loved ones
- Negative self-image
Getting Help for an Opioid Addiction
It can be challenging to make it through each day when you are coping with chronic pain. A well-intentioned doctor can prescribe pain medication that only works for a short time or loses its efficacy due to tolerance issues.
Understanding what opioid abuse is, how it affects people, and what signs and symptoms to look for is also the first step in seeking treatment. You can make healthier choices for yourself and help loved ones dealing with drug abuse by learning how drugs affect the body.
Withdrawing from the drug can cause several symptoms. Both opioid withdrawal and alcohol withdrawal, on the whole, make people feel uneasy. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous at times and can cause setbacks in the recovery process. Knowing what to expect will help you get the help you need to safely detox and heal from drug abuse.
To prevent intense withdrawal symptoms, tapering off medications may be a choice in some situations. When you’re taking a prescription drug, you’ll usually start tapering after a few weeks. Doctors should be sure of the exact medication they are tapering and the one they are prescribing since prescription medications are highly regulated. They will be sure that the taper will be effective and safe.
Tapering is usually an option with prescription medications like antidepressants and benzodiazepines. For street drugs, on the other hand, it is not an option as many of them contain impurities and can contain varying quantities of drugs. Some street drugs contain additional ingredients. Doctors often advise that you avoid using street drugs abruptly and seek medical attention for withdrawal and detox. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
The following are some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid dependence.
- Intense cravings
- Increased heartbeat
- Flu-like symptoms
In some instances, patients may reduce their dependence on opioids by combining alternative treatments such as yoga and acupuncture with other drugs.
Drug Addiction Treatment
The first phase in quitting drug abuse is medical detox. Here at Granite Recovery Centers, we treat your withdrawal symptoms in medical detox as your body transitions to life without the drug. However, if you don’t get additional treatment after completing detox, you’re at risk of relapsing. As a result, we combine medical detox with other treatment programs to ensure long-term success.
Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.
Treatment for substance abuse is most successful when it consists of many different elements. If you need substance dependency treatment or opioid addiction treatment, we offer the following services to give you the best chance of sobriety:
- Therapy, both individual and group therapy sessions
- Social help, i.e., parenting, housing, or job issues
- Medical help for conditions like depression that might be associated with your drug misuse
- Medication-assisted treatment, if appropriate.
Withdrawal from drugs and alcohol can be complicated and challenging to manage. Granite Recovery Centers has trained professionals who are available to guide you through your journey to recovery. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you regain control over your life and live a sober, happier life.