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How Chronic Pain Can Lead to Drug Addiction

For as long as you can remember, you’ve dealt with chronic pain. You may have heard that chronic pain can lead to drug addiction, but when you consider the benefits that having pain relief offers you, you’re tempted to take the pain medication the doctor has prescribed anyway. As it turned out, you’re able to experience some relief for the first time in years, and you love the feeling of being pain-free, at least some of the time. When the pain medicine wears off, you take an additional dose, only the next time it doesn’t work as well. You feel confused and a little irritated that it didn’t seem to provide you with any help, so you take a little more medication before it’s really time. Before long, you’re taking quite a bit of pain medication on a regular basis. Whenever you stop taking it, or if you run out, you can’t help but feel overcome by a need for more. You’ve become addicted.

Why Does Chronic Pain Often Lead to Drug Addiction?

There are a number of reasons why it’s so common for people with chronic pain to become addicted to their pain medication.

  1. Prescription medication is seen as “safe” – Your doctor has put his stamp of approval on your medicine. He must think you need it, right? While this idea makes a lot of sense, it’s also what leads many people to think of their prescription medications in a different way than they think of illegal drugs. Both are addictive and can potentially be dangerous. Still, because prescription medications are thought of as safe, they’re not handled as cautiously as they should be. For that reason, by the time a person realizes he’s addicted, it’s too late.
  2. Prescription medication has other “feel good” side effects – You get great relief from your pain medication. You might be able to do things you haven’t done in years, and you feel happy about being able to accomplish simple tasks around your house. When the drugs wear off, you’re left feeling the pain come back, and with that pain, you also experience a bit of depression and sadness. This is very common, and those “feel good” side effects are often addicting too.
  3. You have an addictive history – Whether it’s been years since you’ve actively participated in your addiction, or you’ve only been in recovery for a few months when you use prescription pain medications you’re awakening those addictive tendencies all over again. Your brain recognizes the positive feelings that come with using drugs, and addiction is achieved much more quickly. This is sometimes referred to as cross-addiction, and it happens to many people who were once addicted to something other than prescription medications.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with chronic pain that don’t have to involve addictive drugs. There is also healing and recovery available for those who are suffering from an addiction. If you would like to talk with someone about your own need for drug treatment, please contact us.