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7 Natural Ways to Manage Chronic Pain in Recovery

Hi there, thanks for joining me. This podcast is all about sharing positive advice and wisdom for daily life in recovery. In this episode, I’m going to provide 7 natural ways to manage chronic pain in recovery.

Often when we go to the doctor, the first option for pain relief is medication. However, this may not be the best option if you are recovering from severe addiction and the benefits of using opioids for pain relief may not outweigh the risks. (more…)

Why Are Opioids Addictive?

person taking opioids

Why are opioids addictive?
Opioids are highly addictive because they flood the brain with endorphins and dopamine, which produce feelings of pleasure, satisfaction, and euphoria. The “high” is so powerful and unlike any natural rush of endorphins and dopamine that the only way a person can experience those feelings again is by using opioids. There are several other genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that all contribute to the likelihood of developing an opioid addiction.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include synthetic opioids, prescription painkillers, and heroin.1 These drugs are all chemically related and interact with the same opioid receptors in the brain and body. Their effects result in feelings of euphoria, which encourages opioid abuse, dependence, and addiction.

The terms “opiates” and “opioids” are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference between the two. An opiate is a drug that is naturally derived from the opiate poppy plant and an opioid is a broader term that refers to natural or synthetic substances that bind to the body’s opioid receptors.

Opioids are classified as controlled substances by the DEA and their current scheduling is as follows:

Opioid Drug Scheduling
Schedule IHeroin
Schedule IIDemerol (meperidine)

Dilaudid (hydromorphone)

Dolophine (methadone)

Duragesic or Sublimaze (fentanyl)

Morphine

Opium

OxyContin

Percocet (oxycodone)

Vicodin

Other hydrocodone medications

Schedule IIIBuprenex

Subutex

Suboxone

Temgesic

Other buprenorphine products

Schedule IVTramadol
Schedule VSome codeine medications (e.g., Robitussin AC)

Source: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/schedules/orangebook/c_cs_alpha.pdf

Side Effects of Opioid Use

When they are used responsibly as prescribed by a doctor, prescription opioid drugs provide effective relief from moderate to severe pain. However, when opioid drugs are abused, they can cause the following short-term side effects:

  • Depressed breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma2

 Long-term opioid abuse may also result in:

  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Opioid withdrawal
  • Addiction2

Causes of Opioid Addiction

If a person is addicted to opioids, he or she may feel like they are impossible to live without. An addicted person may also experience irresistible cravings for opioids and succumb to uncontrollable, compulsive opioid use. There is no single cause of opioid addiction, rather, the factors that contribute to opioid addiction often include a person’s genetics, environment, and lifestyle factors.

Researchers believe that many of the genes involved in the body’s reward and pleasure center also play a role in addictive behaviors and opioid addiction. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the genes that are responsible for making opioid receptors may vary, which lead to differences in the opioid receptors’ structure and function. In turn, this also influences how the body responds to opioid drugs.3

There are also several environmental and lifestyle factors that may cause opioid addiction. They include:

  • A history of substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Childhood abuse/neglect
  • Personality traits like impulsivity and sensation-seeking
  • Poverty
  • Associating with people who abuse opioids

Generally, a combination of all the factors listed above determines a person’s likelihood of developing an opioid addiction.

Opioid Addiction Risk Factors

Any opioid use, even short-term, can lead to tolerance, dependence, addiction, and overdose. Therefore, anyone who takes opioid drugs is at risk of becoming addicted to them. Although it is impossible to determine who will become addicted and who will not, here are some of the most common risk factors for opioid addiction:

  • Personal or family history of substance abuse
  • History of criminal activity and/or legal problems
  • History of severe depression and/or anxiety
  • Previous drug or alcohol rehabilitation
  • Association with drug users or high-risk environments
  • Mental disorders/psychiatric problems
  • Young age
  • Thrill-seeking behaviors
  • Heavy tobacco use
  • Poverty/unemployment
  • Stressful life circumstances4

Opioid Addiction Statistics

Opioid addiction is common in America and it doesn’t discriminate based on gender, social class, profession, race, age, or any other social standing or class. Here are some recent opioid addiction statistics that illustrate the growing opioid abuse problem in the U.S.

  • More than 130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses.5
  • The estimated total economic burden of prescription opioid abuse in the U.S. is $78.5 billion a year.5
  • 47,600 people died from opioid overdoses in 2017.6
  • 886,000 people used heroin in 2017.6
  • 81,000 people used heroin for the first time in 2017.6
  • 15,482 deaths were attributed to heroin overdoses in 2017.6
  • 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids in 2017.6
  • 2 million people misused prescription opioids for the first time in 2017.6
  • 2.1 million people had an opioid use disorder in 2017.6
  • 28,466 deaths were caused by synthetic opioid overdoses other than methadone in 2017.6
  • An estimated 23 percent of people who use heroin will develop opioid addiction.7
  • In 2017, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids was 6 times higher than in 1999.8

Opioid Addiction: Treatment and Prevention

Opioid addiction can’t always be prevented, but there are several measures that individuals can take to protect themselves from the risks of prescription drug abuse and opioid addiction. A few strategies include:

  • Closely following the directions or instructions provided by the pharmacist when taking prescription opioid drugs.
  • Being aware of potentially dangerous drug and alcohol combinations and interactions.
  • Talking to a doctor before changing prescription doses.
  • Not taking anyone else’s prescription opioids or sharing yours.
  • Storing prescription opioid drugs safely.9

If you or a loved one is addicted to opioid drugs, there is a way out and you can recover with the right support. Evidence-based treatment methods in detox, rehab, and aftercare can help ensure a full recovery from addiction while also initiating positive behavioral changes, attitudes, and healthy social interactions with sober peers.

Admitting you’re addicted and you need help is difficult, but it’s the first step to reclaiming your life. Call (512) 605-2955 to speak with a Nova admissions representative today to find out how we can help you take hold of a fresh start and begin your new life in recovery.

 

References:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18443635
  3. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/opioid-addiction
  4. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/prescription-drug-abuse/in-depth/how-opioid-addiction-occurs/art-20360372
  5. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/opioids/opioid-overdose-crisis
  6. https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/about-the-epidemic/index.html
  7. https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/advocacy/opioid-addiction-disease-facts-figures.pdf
  8. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
  9. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/misuse-prescription-drugs/how-can-prescription-drug-misuse-be-prevented

Meloxicam: A Safer Alternative to Opioid Painkillers?

meloxicam pills

Could you have an addiction to Meloxicam?
Take this confidential Meloxicam use disorder assessment.

Although the dangers of opioid painkillers are well-known and documented, there are few alternative options that provide effective relief from chronic or severe pain. For those who are in recovery from substance use disorder, managing pain without opioid drugs may sometimes be difficult. Meloxicam is one drug that has been considered as a possible alternative to opioids and it shows promise. However, meloxicam and other NSAIDs also come with their own set of risks. (more…)

Sick and Tired of Heroin

stories addiction recovery

Juliana grew up living a simple quiet life in rural Austin. Although she was surrounded by wealthy kids at school and she knew she was different, her parents worked hard to ensure that she always had everything she needed. As a child, Juliana was exposed to some partying, alcohol use, and some drug use, but her home was always a place of safety and stability.

Juliana describes herself as a “straight edge kid” throughout middle school and into early high school. Although she didn’t experiment with drugs or alcohol at this age, she did suffer from behavioral problems. She never wanted to go to school, her grades weren’t great, and she saw several different therapists, who prescribed her antidepressants.

As Juliana got a little older, she found herself trapped in a string of toxic relationships which led to her first experience with drugs and alcohol.

“I met a guy and started drinking and smoking weed at parties and things like that,” she says. “I felt like I had found a group of people who were really my friends. I didn’t know where I fit in, but suddenly, I had these ride or die type people I could hang out with. They didn’t care or judge me as long as we could get messed up together.”

A Hard and Fast Fall

JulianaJuliana’s descent into addiction was hard and fast. She was 18, living on her own, had a good job, and although she was drinking and smoking, she was getting by. Then, she started dating a guy who abused opiate pain pills and sold heroin. Getting a taste of that changed everything and the next seven years of Juliana’s life were spent struggling with heroin addiction.

“I remember the first time I tried it, it gave me so much energy. It made things so easy and all the stuff in my head just stopped,” she says. “After I tried heroin, I wanted more the next day, and then the next day, and so on. I just never really stopped.”

Within a month, Juliana couldn’t pay her rent, lost her job, and she was forced to move back in with her parents. She smoked heroin every day for two years before it progressed to IV use. At one point during that time, she recalls overdosing and waking up in the hospital to see the pained looks on her parents’ faces.

“I put my parents through so much, but they were always really forgiving and put up with a lot for a long time,” she says. “They saw the worst of everything but never gave up on me. They were the only people who were there through all of it.”

A New Year’s Eve Wake-Up Call

At the age of 20, Juliana was arrested on New Year’s Eve. She spent a few days detoxing in jail but agreed to go to treatment when she got out. She was starting to realize that heroin just wasn’t fun anymore, and although she wasn’t fully dedicated to getting sober, she was willing to try.

Juliana’s first experience in treatment lasted 30 days, but it wasn’t the type of addiction treatment she needed to be able to make a lasting change. Although she did benefit from the counseling and some time away from everything, she didn’t work the 12 steps or delve into any of the recovery work.

“I relapsed that night after I got out. I didn’t think about it and I didn’t know it was going to be so hard. As soon as I left, I got such bad cravings and it just kind of hit me,” she says.

For five years, Juliana bounced in and out of detox centers, rehabs, and sober living homes, but was never able to maintain her sobriety for longer than a month. She didn’t want to be around other people, always stopped going to meetings, and never wanted to work with a sponsor on a long-term basis.

Juliana’s last treatment experience at Nova Recovery Center started the same way they always did: being sick and tired of heroin. Although she had attended rehab at Nova several times before, Juliana had always relapsed and was unsure if treatment would ever work for her. She was starting to think that maybe she was just destined to be
miserable and addicted.

After relapsing for the final time, Juliana asked to come back to Nova, and the staff welcomed her back. Unlike all the other times before, she chose to do things differently this time around.

Even though she was only in treatment for 30 days this time around, Juliana completed all assignments she was given (even the uncomfortable ones), worked through all the 12 steps, committed to working with a sponsor, and even made amends with her parents, which she had never done before. After completing rehab, she moved into a Eudaimonia sober living home, where she established some very strong connections with other girls in recovery.

“This time around, I put myself in the center of the program, while in the past, I had sat back and watched but was too afraid to get vulnerable. I wasn’t open-minded enough to do all the work,” she says.

Today, Juliana has been sober for 14 months, she just started a new job that she loves, and she has healthy relationships. She even goes back to Nova every month to share her experience and mentor other girls who are currently in treatment.

“Now, I want to be sober more than I want to use,” she says. “I know a lot of people who have died and that totally could have happened to me. It took me years and I’m just now getting it, so just don’t give up. It’s possible to have a good life but it takes getting connected to people and a program that will hold you accountable.”

“We don’t want to regret the past or shut the door on it, but we need to take that and use it to help people,” she says, quoting the Big Book. “Something good can come from all this.”

If you or a loved one is ready to take the next step and start your journey to recovery, call Nova Recovery Center today. We’re here to help you through each stage of the treatment process.

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