Pain is one of the key reasons why someone would turn to drugs and alcohol. However, when a person enters recovery, they need to find ways to manage their pain without resorting to the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and this can be a difficult task. In fact, if a person doesn’t learn to manage their pain, they may put themselves at risk for relapse.
Dealing with Pain During Recovery
If you’re in pain and you’re in recovery without a way to manage it, it will likely have an impact on your life. Here are some of the effects that pain can have:
- depression and suicidal thoughts
- difficulty with concentrating or focusing
- may not be able to work or hold down a job
- may avoid pleasurable activities with family and friends (out of feeling down or to avoid making the pain worse)
- feeling angry or frustrated
- feeling hopeless
- inability to move around
- inability to sleep at night
- having to rely upon others and losing your independence
- having to face side effects if on any pain medication
- anxiety about experiencing future pain
- inability to relax
- isolating from loved ones, especially those who don’t understand or don’t believe your pain
- anxiety about dependence about pain medication
Chronic Pain May Be the Result of Addiction
In some cases, chronic pain is the result of addiction. Use of substances can affect organs, such as the liver, and parts of the brain, causing illnesses that are painful. Yet, in other cases, the pain was what caused the addiction to develop. Regardless of why you are experiencing the pain, the point is to learn to manage it in a healthy way in order to avoid relapse and enjoy your life, where you can.
Here are suggestions for managing chronic pain when you’re in recovery:
- Take hot baths on a regular basis. This can improve circulation and increase relaxation, which can lower pain levels.
- Find healthy ways to distract yourself. If you’re focused on the pain, it might become a growing obstacle in your life. Make sure you have books to read, movies to watch, and people to spend time with. This can help keep the pain at bay, at least for periods of time.
- Practice relaxation techniques. Learning to become more relaxed can actually lower the amount of pain you feel in the body. This can also help you sleep at night if pain is getting in the way of getting enough rest.
- Keep a pain journal. This is a tool to help you become more aware of when and how the pain becomes more prominent. Journaling can also give you an outlet for sharing your frustrations and other feelings about having to deal with chronic pain.
- Find a spiritual practice that works for you. When you have a spiritual practice and/or a relationship with a higher power, you can sometimes find greater inner resources to face life when it gets challenging. You might find a greater sense of patience, understanding, self-compassion, and tolerance.
These are suggestions for facing chronic pain in recovery. As a sober recovering addict, you know that drugs and alcohol aren’t going to work in taking the pain away. If the above suggestions don’t work, talk to your doctor or a mental health therapist.