This question addresses what happens to a lot of people who become addicted to their pain medication and as a result end up in an addiction treatment program. In most cases the addiction program only focuses on one third of the problem—the addiction—and the pain condition does not get adequately addressed.
Another patient of mine named Sharon is a perfect example of pain management being sabotaged by a well meaning treatment program. When I first met her, Sharon was a 43 year old married mother of three grown children. Sharon had never used alcohol or any other drugs including nicotine until at age 42 she started developing periodic migraines. She went to her primary care physician and was given opiates for the pain.
At first Sharon was experiencing 2-3 episodes per month but after about nine months she was experiencing migraines 3-4 times a week. In addition, over that period of time the type, strength, and frequency of her medication also increased dramatically. She went from 5-10 Vicodin tablets per month to taking 4-6 80mg OxyContin tablets per day plus 5-6 Vicodin tablets per day for “breakthrough” pain.
Her doctor finally became alarmed and told her she was an addict and needed to go to an addiction treatment program. The program he recommended said they treated prescription drug addicted pain patients—unfortunately, they really didn’t address Sharon’s pain management needs at all. In fact, when she experienced migraines while in treatment she was told she was drug seeking and needed to learn to live with it.
Sharon was finally discharged and sent home to a family system that now saw her as “one of those addicts.” Sharon became very depressed and suicidal and actually attempted to kill herself and as a result was hospitalized and that’s when she was referred to me. I’ll tell you the rest of her story in my next Blog.
To learn more about effective chronic pain management check out my article The Need for Multidisciplinary Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Article page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are working with people undergoing chronic pain management and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing their chronic pain and coexisting psychological disorders; including depression, addiction and other coexisting psychological disorders effectively; please consider my book Managing Pain and Coexisting Disorders: Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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