For the person recovering from addiction, it’s important to maintain a certain level of awareness and vigilance at all times. Lifestyle changes may be necessary, and that often means letting go of old buddies, not hanging out in bars, etc to maintain your sobriety.
Another situation that sometimes needs to be addressed is the issue of pain medication. Anyone who has struggled with substance abuse must give this careful consideration. Even if you did not have a problem with opiates, being a recovering addict still leaves you vulnerable.
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Pain is a fact of life. While some are lucky to go through most of it without any major injuries or procedures, for most of us, the time will come when medication becomes an issue. This may be due to dental work, minor or major surgery, or an injury.
The Hot Topic Of Pain Medication in Sobriety
People in recovery have wildly differing opinions on pain medication in recovery. Some feel that you should never use it, no matter what, and will even go through dental work or minor procedures without it, and will not use it for postoperative pain management. Others feel that this level of caution is unnecessary, and have no qualms about using the medication if it is prescribed.
Some people even feel that in your sobriety if you take a prescribed opiate pain medication, it’s basically a relapse, or at the very least puts you in danger of relapsing. Others are simply more casual about it.
So who is right?
Well, both and neither, really. Each person has to make their own decisions about pain management and how to mitigate the risks involved with using pain medication. Part of that is to acknowledge that there is indeed a risk. The other part is making a plan. Ideally, you will fall somewhere in the middle ground when it comes to pain medication. While there is no need to suffer unnecessarily, it’s not a good idea to throw caution to the wind, either. Here are some things to consider when making decisions.
Honesty and Communication Maintains Sobriety
Both of these can save your life. It’s important that you use them when dealing with each and every medical professional you see. This means your doctor, pharmacist, dentist, etc. Let them know that you are a recovering addict. This may seem awkward, but really it’s not. They will likely congratulate you, and may ask how long you have been in recovery and what your drug of choice was. That’s it.
Be sure to communicate with them honestly. When discussing procedures or pain, talk to them about medication. Learn your options for your sobreity. If you do have to take an opiate pain medication, work out a plan for it.
Honesty and communication with your support group and recovery community is important. Always talk to your sponsor about any medication you may be considering taking. Let people know before you go in to have anything done so they can support you.
Make A Plan for Sobriety
Decide ahead of time how you would like to manage pain without putting your sobriety at risk, if possible. Talk to your doctor about all pain management options. For many things, you may be able to take a non-narcotic pain reliever or a stronger medication with less likelihood of abuse. It’s important that you take any medication as directed, and that you use the least amount necessary for pain management. Most people can handle more discomfort than they think they can. Pain is, well, painful, but you don’t have to eliminate it to be okay.
Don’t underestimate the soothing power of hot and cold compresses and over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
If you have to take opiate medication because you have had a major procedure or injury, get as much support as possible. Some people feel more comfortable if they have a trusted friend or family member handle their pain medication. This is a perfectly acceptable way to help keep yourself safe. However, choose this person carefully. A codependent partner or parent is not an ideal candidate!
Bottom line, if you are in pain, do your best to manage it with as little medication as possible, and none if it’s an option for you. If you do need it, then stay vigilant, but don’t be run by fear, either. As long as you are honest with your doctors, your support group and yourself, you should be fine. Always look at alternative means for pain management, and don’t isolate yourself if you do find yourself on medication. Addiction can sneak up on you quickly, but it’s less likely to happen if you are surrounded by people who have your back and aren’t afraid to tell you if they think things are getting shaky.
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Getting Help For Addiction
If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, FindAddictionRehabs.com can help. We offer treatments that address the whole person, not just the disease of addiction. We offer alternative holistic therapies designed to heal your mind, body and soul. Get the help you need to overcome addiction today. Contact FindAddictionRehabs.com at 1-877-959-7271 today.
Anna M. joined Find Addiction Rehabs with extensive experience in the field of addiction treatment. As a former Nurse Practitioner in Miami, she found her passion for addiction treatment when a family member was lost to his disease. With each article and resource, she hopes to save other families from experiencing the anguish of a loved one’s passing due to drinking or drugs.