One of the most frequent questions I get at my trainings is “what is the major reason people abuse their pain medication?” In my opinion under-treated pain is right up there, especially when we’re talking about chronic pain. For many of the chronic pain patients I’ve worked with, either they or their doctors were too afraid to prescribe opiate medication—opioid-phobia—or they wouldn’t prescribe a high enough dose. Now I know caution must be used when prescribing this type of medication, especially for someone with a history, or family history, of alcoholism or other addiction. But even for this population under-medicating may actually cause more damage bio-psycho-socially than using the medication, and for someone in addiction recovery it could lead to a relapse.
A big reason some chronic pain management patients eventually get in trouble is due to too conservative treatment and being able to access effective pain management interventions. For example many of the injured workers who were on Workers Compensation Coverage weren’t given adequate treatment early on. In fact many times relatively inexpensive treatments were denied and later on it cost much more in the long run.
An important factor that leads people to develop substance use disorders when taking pain medication is also that they don’t do anything else for chronic pain management. They become passive pill-taking recipients instead of proactive participants in their pain management. Most of the research on best practice treatment for chronic pain recommends an integrated multidisciplinary approach—treating the whole person. Unfortunately, due to HMOs Managed Care and lack of insurance, pills are often the quick fix.
Some people abuse their pain medication because they don’t know any better. Today many pain management specialists take precautions to educate their patients when they are going to be prescribed opiate medications. Part of this education includes information about drug-interactions. For example many people still drink alcohol even when the medication label gives a warning. In fact some people see a warning such as “Alcohol may intensify the effects” as an indication that drinking with the medication will give them better pain management. They don’t realize the synergistic effect on the liver and how the medication is not being metabolized like it should be. This can be lethal.
To learn more about overcoming problems in chronic pain management due to prescription medication problems please check out my article Managing Chronic Pain Without Pills that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.
If you would like to be skill trained in a synergistic treatment model we have two Addiction-Free Pain Management®Trainings scheduled this Spring — one in Sacramento California in May and the one at Valley Forge Medical Center and Hospital in Noristown PA in June. It’s not to late for people to sign up and in fact by mentioning this Blog I will make sure you get a $20 discount for either training. To get this discount you must call my partner Ellen at (916) 575-9961 and ask her for the discount. Also, for these and other upcoming trainings you can check out our Calendar page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you are living with chronic pain, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication or other mental health problem and want to learn how to develop a plan for managing your pain and medication effectively, please go to our Publications page and check out my book the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.
To listen to a radio interview I did conducted by Mary Woods for her program One Hour at a Time please Click Here to go to this interview.
To read the latest issue of Chronic Pain Solutions Newsletter please Click here. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, please Click here and input your name and email address. You will then recieve an autoresponse email that you need to reply to in order to finalize enrollment.