Coping With Chronic Pain
Chronic pain can result in the need for prescription drug abuse treatment. Chronic pain is frequently caused by many accidents and medical conditions, including arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia neuropathy and other disease states. The effects of living with chronic pain can be devastating. Chronic pain typically produces multiple losses due to one’s inability to perform daily tasks that were previously accomplished without problems. These losses may involve being unable to work, perform routine household chores, participate in family gatherings, socialize, exercise, maintain intimacy, or engage in leisure activities that one previously enjoyed prior to the onset of pain. Prescription drug abuse may occur inadvertently as one attempts to cope with feeling overwhelmed.
As if the sadness about these losses were not enough, they are often compounded by increased medical bills at a time when one is unable to work. As these financial pressures mount, combined with the lack of a cure for the chronic pain, symptoms of anxiety and depression, such as helplessness, hopelessness, fear, panic, irritability and anger often arise. Prescription drug abuse often co-occurs with chronic pain and depression.
These symptoms of anxiety and depression are increasing at the same time withdrawal from intimate relationships and social support are also occurring, contributing to a sense of isolation and aloneness. It is not surprising that numerous studies have shown that approximately 30 – 60% of chronic pain patients also suffer from depression and 15 – 30% report substance abuse, substance dependence or drug addiction problems. This means that chronic pain, depression and prescription drug abuse are common complications of living with chronic pain and are not the exception and give rise to the need for prescription drug abuse treatment. It is easy to understand how, faced with this multitude of stressors, mounting symptoms of anxiety and depression, one might easily begin to slide from drug use to prescription drug abuse, using prescription pain killers to numb psychological pain too. This is usually a key indicator that the person with chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety and depression is overwhelmed and needs additional help coping with chronic pain. This does not mean that the pain is “all in your head”. Instead, it means that there are psychological components to all experiences in life, including pain, and these psychological complications, such as symptoms of anxiety and depression can be treated, which in turn can help you cope with chronic pain, irrespective of what caused your pain (e.g., arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia neuropathy and other disease states). In fact, chronic pain can be viewed as consisting of the physical or biological cause, emotional reactions, and the cognitive “self talk”, or ways we think about our pain. Chronic pain, depression and prescription drug abuse can be effectively treated.
It has been shown that learning how to control the physical tension in your body can reduce the intensity of your chronic pain and enhance pain control. There are numerous techniques to teach your body how to relax. Strategies to induce a state of calm and relaxation may include taking frequent hot baths, listening to soothing music, or becoming absorbed in something pleasurable. More advanced behavioral treatments to reduce physical tension include progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and structured breathing exercises. These exercises not only help reduce tension but can be used to restore a normal sleep cycle, which also improves pain management. Triggers that result in physical tension can be caused by stress, relationships and what we are thinking.
What we tell ourselves about the stressful situation affects our pain management response. The things we tell ourselves, or the thoughts we have, are the cognitive or “self talk” aspects of our adjustment to pain control. Someone who tells themselves “my pain will never get better” or “I will be like this for the rest of my life”, is engaging in “catastrophic thinking”, which increases stress and tension and contribute to the links between chronic pain, depression and the slide from drug use to drug abuse. It is not hard to understand how chronic pain patients start down the path of prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, substance dependence and drug addiction problems. It is important not to lose hope and to remember that prescription drug abuse treatment can be successful.
While this worst case scenario (“it will never get better”) is indeed one possibility, it is not the only possibility, but if we tell this to ourselves it increases our sense of feeling out of control. Additionally, forecasting the future is called “fortune telling” because none of us can predict what will happen in the future. The central issue, however, is “what happens to the pain when you tell yourself these things?” Does engaging in catastrophic thinking make your pain more or less tolerable? Similarly, telling yourself “I can’t go on like this”, or “I can’t stand it”, affects how overwhelmed you feel, increases your stress level and lowers your pain tolerance, thereby reducing your pain management. What you tell yourself about your pain influences your relationship with your pain, as well as how you live and cope with it. These factors influence the chronic pain management, depression and the slide from drug use to prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, substance dependence and drug addiction problems.
To counter catastrophic thinking, one needs to take a more objective, balanced and logical approach. Instead of telling oneself “I can’t go on”, for example, you could remind yourself that that you withstood the pain yesterday, that the pain intensity will not last, the pain will not kill me, etc. You might also examine what you have done thus far that has allowed you to endure the pain and therefore enhanced your pain control. Catastrophic thinking is just one example of the many types of “automatic thoughts” that affect our appraisal and coping with pain. There are many types of “self talk” that reflect the ways we appraise and think about situations, which in turn affects our ability to cope with them. Finding new ways to think about and cope with stress, including the stress of living with chronic pain, is likely to improve your chronic pain management. Because chronic pain, anxiety and depression contribute to the slide from drug use to prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, substance dependence and drug addiction problems, all need to be treated in order to reduce prescription drug abuse. Fortunately, such integrated prescription drug abuse treatment has proven effectiveness and is available in our intensive outpatient program.
Symptoms of anxiety and depression are two of the most prominent emotions that accompany chronic pain. It is not hard to understand why anyone would be angry that “this happened to me”, that they could no longer work, or participate in life as they knew it. Similarly, sadness about the many losses, accompanied by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness are also understandable reactions. In fact, sadness and anger are part of the normal grief process associated with any type of loss. Unfortunately, living with chronic pain provides ongoing reminders of the losses and this makes it easy to become stuck in the sadness and/or anger. This process often feels like being re-injured over and over again, before any healing has occurred. When this happens, both sadness and anger can be symptoms of anxiety and depression. Using prescription drugs to numb these feelings can lead to substance abuse, substance dependence or drug addiction problems Chronic pain, symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as prescription drug abuse can be effectively treated in an integrated treatment program.
How one has learned to cope with loss will determine how fast or slow an individual can move through this process, but the eventual goal is to reach a sense of acceptance or peace, rather than turmoil and despair. The stages of grief or loss include: Denial – “this is not going to happen to me!”; Anger – “I’m not going to take this!”; Bargaining – “I promise if I get better I will …”; Depression – “How can I go on now that this has happened?”; and finally, Acceptance – “I see that I can have parts of my life back and manage to live with my pain”.
Grieving takes time and requires a non-judgmental attitude to allow oneself to experience the full range of feelings associated with the multitude of losses. Talking about the losses with others who are non-judgmental, writing about your losses or keeping a diary about your losses may be some useful tools to work through the normal grief process. If you are stuck somewhere in denial, sadness, bargaining or anger, however, you will probably need some additional tools to accelerate your recovery from prescription drug abuse.
Keeping in mind that stressors increase pain, it is not usual for stressors to include relationship problems. These may be relationship problems that existed before the onset of the pain, or problems that have developed as a result of the losses associated with chronic pain. In either event, the more serious they are, the more likely they are to impact your chronic pain and prescription drug abuse treatment.
Avoidance of symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as chronic pain through prescription drug abuse typically results in a more complicated recovery from chronic pain and substance abuse, substance dependence or drug addiction problems. It may be necessary to develop new strategies to cope with your relationship problems. These problems are opportunities to improve your relationship and reduce your chronic pain, depression and prescription drug abuse. As examples, learning effective communication or anger management skills can provide tools that can help you cope with some of the relationship problems that may be affecting your chronic pain, depression and prescription drug abuse.
Finally, the problem of substance abuse and chronic pain is very difficult to assess. Medications play a vital and important role in recovering from pain, but they can also be used to mask problems coping with chronic pain. If you find yourself relying excessively on your pain medications to “numb out” your feelings, like reducing anger or sadness, you are probably moving from drug use to prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, substance dependence and drug addiction problems.
If you feel you should cut down drinking or using your prescription pain medications, if people think you may be drinking excessively or over-using your prescription pain medications, if you feel guilty about your substance use, or need it to “get going”, remember that substance abuse is a common problem for patients with chronic pain and that those who are troubled by your movement from drug use to prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, substance dependence and drug addiction problems are trying to help you. Prescription drug abuse treatment is available in Memphis Tn.
Unfortunately, symptoms of anxiety and depression, accompanied by the slide from drug use to prescription drug abuse, substance abuse, substance dependence and drug addiction problems can all interfere with your ability to cope with chronic pain and contribute to the vicious cycle of increasing pain and decreasing pain tolerance. Fortunately, whether symptoms of anxiety or depression or substance abuse are related to chronic pain or other problems in life, there is an intensive outpatient program with professional help to cope with these chronic pain problems. Our intensive outpatient program that has experience rehabilitating patients with chronic pain, symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as prescription drug abuse and our patients consistently report that they are highly satisfied with our intensive outpatient program for prescription drug abuse treatment.
Our treatment center provides services to those who need more treatment than one hour a week, but less than 24 hour care, by providing three hours of treatment per day, three to five days per week, in an intensive outpatient program. Effective treatment for prescription medication abuse in Memphis, TN is available now. If you, or someone you care about is suffering from chronic pain, symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as prescription drug abuse, please give us a call at 901-682-1434 to schedule an appointment to address both the physical pain and psychological suffering.