Chronic Pain Management & Pain Pill Addiction: What to do?

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Joe Herzanek, Author, Addiction Counselor and Interventionist

Joe Herzanek, Author, Addiction Counselor and Interventionist

Chronic Pain Management & Pain Pill Addiction

Q. What do you do with someone who is addicted to pain pills but can’t come completely off because of continual pain?

Joe,

I have read your book “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” and also gave it to my sister to read.  She has a daughter who has a pain pill addiction.  The problem is–she can’t just quit because the reason she was put on pain pills in the first place was because she has an incurable back problem.

I don’t remember your addressing this in your book, but what do you do with someone who has a pain pill addiction but can’t come completely off because of continual pain?

~ Betty F. (Tampa, FL)

A. Dear Betty,

This is a difficult dilemma. If your sister’s daughter has genuine, documentable chronic pain (by that I mean a physician has done a thorough exam and can point right to the problem) then this can be a huge challenge.

There is a lot I don’t know from your short email such as her age, type of injury, how long it has persisted and so on.

If she were my daughter I would want to personally go with her to a Dr. appointment and hear the prognosis first-hand. And I am not talking about going to a pain management clinic–but to the physician who is medically treating her injury.

The downside to using opiate pain meds (pain pills) for pain is that the person can/will build a high tolerance to them (if used over many months or years) and even if the original issue that caused the pain were to heal, the patient won’t be able to tell–because their central nervous system now expects opiates to come in on a regular basis. If this doesn’t happen, the body will “revolt”–go into withdrawal.

Your email stated “she has an incurable back problem.” I don’t know what that may mean, how severe the pain is, what has or has not been tried. I’m not a medical doctor. I do know trying lots of other options with the hope of finding a better solution than opiates is worth the effort.

There are often, other options for chronic pain management. Neuromuscular stimulators, stretching, exercise, chiropractic adjustments, over the counter medications, acupuncture, as well as surgery are some treatments for chronic pain. Some physicians use placebos, which in some cases have resulted in a lessening or elimination of pain. Psychotherapy, relaxation and medication therapies, biofeedback, and behavior modification may also be employed to treat chronic pain.

These options require work and a willingness on the daughter’s part to maybe go through a little more pain to find an alternative.

Keep in mind that all the while–she knows in the back of her head, that she can just take another pill or two and get instant relief. This can be a real mental tug-of-war.

Perhaps the best advice is to take the time to find a doctor that truly understands addiction, chronic pain management, pain med abuse along with the psychological mind game that a patient will struggle with.

I can advise you of several resources for advice or suggestions that you may find helpful—depending on your location.

Best regards,

~Joe

 

RELATED:
Pain Meds Cause More Pain! The new silent epidemic.
Read more about this topic—chapter 27, Why Don’t They JUST QUIT?

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4 thoughts on “Chronic Pain Management & Pain Pill Addiction: What to do?

  1. Susan Roy

    In response to this growing problem of chronic pain and addiction, a leading treatment center is developing holistic pain recovery programs. With proper support and information, people with chronic pain can learn to live life free of addictive medications.

  2. Joe

    Dear Denise,
    Concerning Chrissy, sorry to hear about your daughter. After a year and a half it’s very difficult to know what level of pain a person really has until they get completely off pain meds. That means going through detox and seeing how you feel without meds. Often the person can get by with non-opiate drugs but getting there can be difficult to say the least.
    Finding a treatment center without any money is next to impossible. I do know where you can call and get some free information on the phone. The Las Vegas Recovery Center specializes in the situation Chrissy has found herself in. I would call them and ask for some guidance. There # is, 702.515.1373. And this is their web address: http://www.lasvegasrecovery.com/
    Follow our ‘Eye on Addiction Radio Show” beginning on Jan. 14. Dr. Mel Pohl is a scheduled guest. Here’s the website for the show: http://eyeonaddiction.com/
    Let me know how it goes. Best, Joe

  3. Denise

    I, too, have read your book and listened to your two DVD’s. I found the information contained in this material to be so enlightening, helpful and informative I wrote reviews on my own website as well as for Amazon.

    Thank you Joe, for the wonderful list of alternatives to managing pain with pills. My daughter Chrissy who is almost 28 years old, is being treated for Endometriosis, Innerstitialsistitus (painful bladder syndrome) and more recently a back injury from a car accident. She has been on Vicodin, 10 mg. w/ 500 mg. of Tylenol, for a year and a half now. She is definitely drug dependent, but not an addict. However, we have been trying to find her a physician that we can afford to take her to since she does not have any health insurance. All specialists want hundreds of dollars to even see her and then each visit is almost one hundred dollars as it is. She is being treated for depression, anxiety and her pain by a family physician that accepts patients at a discount. Her car insurance will not pay up front for her medical visits therefore she would have to come up with the fees ahead of time and then get reimbursed, we don’t make that kind of money and she cannot work at all now. She is seeing an Acupuncturist for a few visits and she is getting more relaxed but it has done very little for the pain. She feels hopeless, I am discouraged and we don’t know where to turn. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. :-)

  4. Robin

    I’ve had chronic pain for over 10 years from a horseback riding accident. There are 4 vertebra in my cervical spine that are herniated and I’m dangerously close to paralysis with further incident. All the doctors wanted to do was give me more pills. Hydro’s and Oxy’s don’t work anymore. Morphine was next. I finally put my foot down and turned to Medical Marijuana. It’s amazing! No side effects. No withdrawal. No dependence. Even my doctor told me the other day that it should be legalized because of it’s effectiveness. Now… I understand that an addictive personality (nor their family or church) may not believe that a ‘drug’ would be a helpful alternative to chronic pain… however, this ignorance must be overcome. The healing powers of Marijuana have been used for over 3000 years in healing (that we KNOW of). God and mother earth manufacture it for a non-profit organization. It is NOT a drug… It is a plant! Perhaps if more people understood that, there would be less issues. Good luck with your daughter. May the government have mercy on her soul…

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