How Will I Deal with Pain in the Future While in Opioid Recovery?

If you’re recovering from opioid abuse or addiction, then you know the struggles you’ve been through are reason enough to stay sober and keep working hard at your recovery. Unfortunately, there’s many reasons you may require pain management, that could even be where you got your start with opioid abuse in the first place. Physicians working with pain management patients who have a history of opioid abuse/dependence have some unique challenges and limitations to work with, but all hope is not lost.

The most important factor is that you have a clear indication for need as a pain management patient for a physician to treat you, legally. The physician will also take into consideration your unique needs as a pain management patient, treatment will differ whether you have acute pain, chronic pain, or end of life pain.

With acute pain, you’ll be treated much in the same way as any other patient but follow up care and check ins may be more important to make sure you’re doing OK and to prevent relapse. If you’re a patient with chronic pain, your physicians goal is to treat you in a way that will maximize functionality while giving you relief from pain. Your physician will take into consideration your tolerance, your propensity towards physical dependence, and will periodically ween you from the medications to reassess pain levels.

To help yourself in this situation, you’ll want to develop an open and honest therapeutic relationship with your physician and only have one prescribing doctor for all your medication needs. You can inquire about nonpsychotropic drugs that might help you manage pain as well.

For patients who are at the end of life, your addiction history may not matter as much, as your pain management will be treated aggressively to keep you comfortable.

We’d love to hear from those of you who have experience with pain management after addiction!

Prater, C. D., Zylstra, R. G., & Miller, K. E. (2002). "Successful Pain Management for the Recovering Addicted Patient". (Website). 2002
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