Treating Chronic Pain and Addiction

Pain affects millions of people and their loved ones on a daily basis. According to Johns Hopkins, nearly 100 million Americans deal with chronic pain, which is more than the number of people who live with diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

Pain is invisible to others, making it harder for those who struggle with it. People who have chronic pain often become withdrawn and isolated from others, which can lead to depression and anxiety. It can also put them at risk for substance abuse either because the medications they take are addictive, or because they use the drugs to self-medicate.

Since it can be especially challenging to treat a patient with addiction and chronic pain, not all treatment centers are comfortable taking on these patients. If you or a loved one requires treatment for both a pain disorder and substance abuse, you will need to find a treatment center like The River Source that is skilled at working with both conditions.

Treating Pain and Addiction

The best treatment approach is an integrative one. An integrative treatment plan might include:


During therapy, patients learn the factors that played a role in their substance abuse. It’s possible that these factors might have complicated their pain as well. For example, drugs can disrupt natural sleep patterns and worsen depression. A counselor will help your loved one identify other ways to cope rather than drugs as well as how to think differently about negative emotions.

Non-Addicting Medications

There are a number of non-addicting drugs available that can be used to manage and treat pain. For instance, some types of antidepressants and antiepileptic drugs have proven to be effective at providing patients with relief. While these medications are still drugs that can have side effects, they are non-habit forming.

Alternative Therapies

When taking part in an integrative treatment program, your loved one will also learn ways to cope with their pain that extend beyond medication. Examples of non-drug pain management are meditation, biofeedback, massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. The purpose of these alternative therapies is to produce feel-good chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers while also speeding up the body’s ability to heal.

Opioid Pain Medications

If your loved one needs to take opioid pain medication but runs the risk for addiction, there are ways to manage the situation. This might include an opioid agreement between the doctor and patient, periodic drug tests, proper dispensing of leftover medications and using a single pharmacy. Opioid pain medications can be safe and effective when used as directed, so some recovering addicts are able to use them sparingly in the future.

Each patient is unique and should have an equally unique care team. If you would like to learn more about The River Source’s approach to treating substance abuse and chronic pain disorders, feel free to give us a call.

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Welcome to The River Source, the place where new beginnings are created. We commend you for taking the first step in your recovery, and we want you to know that we are here for you.