What Does Chronic Pain Management and Addiction Treatment Look Like? 

Chronic pain management is a part of many people’s recovery programs. Addiction treatment is difficult when a person has chronic pain because opioids are more likely to end up in a cross-over addiction for those already struggling. With many chronic pain management options, some people need a plan that does not include opioids. In order to find positive support mechanisms and reduce opioid-associated harm, it means prescriptions are needed to identify appropriate measures that help people feel less pain but also manage recovery better. 

Positive Pain Outcomes

Prescribers of painkillers for people with addiction must be prepared to identify and intervene appropriately when misuse happens. At the same time, they have to search long and hard for approaches that avoid opioids and support pain management. The challenges of managing chronic pain in those who have developed opioid use disorders (OUDs) is critical. A new perspective on positive pain outcomes is necessary for building an appreciation of the nature of pain and the complexities of managing this for people in whom addictive tendencies reside. With an emphasis that is moving away from opioids towards alternative plans, it is helpful to think about a different approach that encompasses many avenues and seeks to bring new ways of healing to the table. 

Different Kinds of Energy

Some chronic pain is due to ongoing issues with injuries, while pain can be from acute issues, as well. Active treatments that include intervention procedures and medications may have important roles in ongoing treatment. Chronic pain and opioid or substance use disorders can occur at the same time, therefore making it more challenging to treat. Self-management of energy when pain is high means addressing the root cause and finding many ways to approach healing. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches healing from the perspective of reducing physical and psychosocial triggers for drug use. This helps people adapt thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that reduce symptoms and improve life. People with chronic pain issues may feel overwhelming but manageable pieces of the puzzle are going to include how to handle a few little things at a time rather than tackling the big picture all at once.

Twelve-step Programs

Self-help groups that include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) are popular for people in recovery. These twelve steps evolved to help address pain from many angles. Chronic pain is one of the issues people discuss in AA, but mostly they focus on sobriety from drinking. Positive-focused groups can support people who deal with chronic pain but groups that focus specifically on this issue might be helpful in identifying with others who get the pain and know some tips for coping.


Getting enough exercise is important for most people who deal with daily pain. Treating it like a deconditioning of the brain means letting the body strengthen itself to deal with the challenges of recovery. Pain can be debilitating, causing people to stop moving, resulting in loss of joint motion and increasing pain. It also improves self-esteem and reduces drug cravings while improving outcomes for people with chronic pain. 

Meeting the Challenges

Interdisciplinary treatment means focusing on how to incorporate multiple modalities in the treatment of people with chronic pain and addiction issues. The challenge is providing effective treatment that gives them the care they need so they can heal from addiction. Tapering off opioids to try other medications, or methods of healing should be overseen by professionals who understand these challenges. Healthcare systems need to work better together for people’s care coordination when they struggle with co-occurring chronic pain and addiction disorders. A higher priority is on chronic illness management, rather than supported care, which means not everyone is getting the help they need. Implementation of these in diverse health care settings is difficult but necessary.

To reduce the challenges of treatment in these settings, health care providers do well to support policies that improve the care of chronic health issues. People need to be encouraged to engage in self-care while also bringing family and friends into the mix. People who are cared for holistically are going to be better off than those for whom treatment is unilaterally focused on one area of healing. Healthcare systems, treatment facilities, and professionals who help those with addiction need to create a multidisciplinary approach. This helps keep the focus on the whole person, one a single problem and provides solutions that work to create better systems overall. To get to a place of healing from chronic pain may mean coping better with it rather than making it go away altogether. Substances and other things mask the issues, but when the person is able to let go of the idea they can cure their pain, they may be able to live a more full life and embrace their life now while seeking support for the journey ahead with a new perspective. 

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