Relapsing on Pain Pills. Is Your Sobriety at Risk?
Getting sober can be easy. Many people stop drinking or using, all the time - many times. The hard part for most people is learning how to stay sober. What happens when you have legitimate pain, and need relief? Are you at risk for relapsing on pain pills?
Drug Rehab Teaches You How to Navigate
Many alcoholics and addicts continue to use alcohol or other drugs due to their emotional and mental pain. Alcoholics and addicts learn usually very early in life, that their drinking or drug use numbs the pain of whatever may be going on for them. Most alcoholics and addicts, although at one time experienced euphoria and bliss with intoxication, progress long past that. By the time many are searching for help for their addiction, the quest had been to achieve is oblivion. Anesthesia. Out Cold. Comatose. Addiction is about changing the way you feel, and to the extreme, it’s about not feeling at all.
Getting Sober, Working the Steps
When a person is ready for sobriety, and is willing to go to any lengths to get it, there is not really much on this earth that can stop them. If they have really taken Step 1 and know that they are powerless over their addiction, and that it is the first drink (or whatever) that will take them down, they will, as the Big Book says, “recoil from liquor as though from a hot flame”. If a person is diligent through their steps, is clearing away the wreckage of their past, and doing the necessary work to stay sober, they may begin to have a false sense of security. Without a solid recovery program, and a good sense of risks of relapse, this happens quite frequently.
Legitimate Physical Pain – What to Do?
It happens. It happens to anyone, regardless of being an alcoholic or addict. Dental surgery or a broken leg, appendicitis, back pain – whatever – there is legitimate pain that needs to be treated. The medical community is very good at treating pain, and usually quick to hand out powerful pain killer analgesics and opiod narcotics. For a small minority, this type of chronic pain relief can be the beginning of the cycle of addiction. For most people, these occasional meds are not a problem, and the pain relief is welcomed.
This is not true for people in recovery. For those that have a history of addiction and in recovery, this is a very significant concern. Even if an alcoholic has never abused narcotics in the past, a narcotic analgesic or opiate can trigger the craving for more narcotics or for alcohol. While it may not be the same drug that was previously seen as the initial cause of the addiction, it can cause triggers. Regardless of whether the drug is exactly the same molecule, the familiar change in feeling toward numbing can trigger a relapse in addictive behavior.
THIS IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM. Rehabs and 12 Step rooms are full of stories of relapse that began with a casual acceptance of a doctor’s prescription. If you are in recovery from alcoholism or other addiction, you need to be prepared. Often this need for legitimate pain relief is unexpected. Therefore, as part of your program of sobriety, it is strongly suggested that you have already discussed this with your sponsor, and physician, and that you have a successful pain management plan for your recovery. With careful planning, you don’t have to risk relapsing on pain pills.
Bring up the topic in meetings, and receive the rich experience, strength and hope from people who have firsthand experience. Don’t get caught off guard. There are tried and tested ways that people in recovery deal with pain and stay sober. Each individual case is different, but don’t try to go this alone, using your best thinking. Use your support network, and try to have a medical doctor that is an addictions specialist or at least familiar with recovery and twelve step fellowships. They will understand, where often other physicians or dentists won’t.
Pain Medications – Red Flag Alert
Like in all aspects of your sobriety you need to stay alert, on a daily basis. The forces of addiction are strong, and they never rest. Be careful of pain medications touted to be ‘safer’ or ‘non addicting’. Tramadol is a good example of this. Until recently, the popular conception of the semi-synthetic, tramadol, is that it is a strong pain reliever that is non-addicting. Extensive clinical experience has shown this to be false. In fact, tramadol is highly addictive and many people have developed addiction to the drug with serious, sometimes life threatening, withdrawal effects.
Coming to a good drug rehab, you will learn about relapse prevention, and some of the more subtle dangers to sobriety and recovery. Serenity Vista in Panama is a private-pay luxury recovery center that utilizes holistic therapies and is solidly based on a 12 Step Foundation. Guests work hard and learn a lot, but they have a lot of fun here too. We talk about the important things you will need to know for practical sobriety in day to day living. Serenity Vista will prepare you for life’s challenges in recovery, including how to deal with pain that is inevitable in life. Learn more about our full residential program in beautiful Panama.