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Understanding the Connection Between Chronic Pain and Addiction

The current painkiller epidemic has brought new attention to the serious issue of addiction. While you may have heard about others developing a dependency on painkillers or alcohol and checking into addiction recovery programs, most people never think that it could happen to them. Unfortunately, anyone who struggles with pain on a daily basis is at risk of developing an addiction, and understanding empowers you to do your part to stop the cycle of drug and alcohol misuse.

Ways Drugs and Alcohol Affect Your Pain Response

When you deal with constant pain, any type of relief sometimes feels better than dealing with the discomfort. Prescription painkillers are the go-to medication for many people. These are typically opioids that attach to receptors in the brain responsible for the pain response. According to information provided by ForwardRecovery.com, a non-addictive prescription painkiller is in development but is still many years away from being a viable option.

Alcohol affects the pain response by interfering with neurotransmitters in your brain that send signals between your nerves and your brain. Both painkillers and alcohol also affect your emotional response to suffering, and you may find that you use them to relax and deal with the stress of being constantly in pain.

Common Types of Chronic Pain

Pain is your body’s normal response to an injury or illness. In most cases, pain only lasts long enough for you to treat the condition, and it goes away once you fully recover. However, certain types of pain linger long after the triggering event. For instance, you may develop chronic pain in your pelvic region after childbirth if scar tissue forms. Alternatively, you may have constant pain in your back after a car accident or sports injury. Certain health conditions such as arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome also cause pain that forms in response to inflammation in your body.

Signs of a Developing Addiction

An addiction to painkillers or alcohol usually begins slowly, and you may not realize for a long time exactly how your body is becoming dependent upon the substance. One of the first signs of addiction is a growing tolerance to the drugs. This means that you may need to take more pills or drink more to ease your discomfort like you used to be able to do in the past with less.

You may also find that you want to keep using painkillers even after a physician suggests weaning off and trying a different pain relief method. As the addiction takes root, you may struggle with keeping up with your daily responsibilities, or you may even encounter legal or health problems that signify that your use of painkillers or alcohol is out of control.

How to End the Negative Cycle

Trying to stop using painkillers or alcohol cold turkey is not only difficult, but it could lead to serious withdrawal symptoms such as an increase in your pain levels. For this reason, most people need assistance as they go through the detox process, and you benefit from seeking help that also allows you to explore safer methods of addressing your pain. The realization that you may have an addiction is the first step toward finding the support that you need for recovery.

You should never be ashamed about reaching out for help if you or a loved one is struggling with a painkiller or alcohol addiction. Today, there are other alternatives for pain relief that are less likely to lead to physical or psychological dependency. By taking action now to address a potential addiction, you put yourself back in charge of your health and happiness.

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