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Chronic Pain and Substance Abuse

Chronic pain and substance abuse can sometimes go hand in hand. The risks of someone who suffers from chronic pain can lead to devastating results. Often, people struggling with chronic pain conditions are given medications that can easily be abused, and lead to dependence. Dependence and addiction to these substances are dangerous and can lead to severe impacts on a person’s life, health, and overall well-being. Understanding the risks can help those who are struggling to get proper care and properly manage their condition.

What is the Connection Between Chronic Pain and Addiction?

Chronic pain is an affliction that many Americans deal with on a daily basis. This can include things like arthritis, joint pain, back pain, and nerve pain. These are conditions where opioid pain medications are often administered, and this can often lead to dependence and addiction on these substances. Opioid drugs are substances that bind to the opioid receptors in the brain and they alleviate pain senses. However, there are other effects that often lead to these medications being used inappropriately. 

Which Comes First?

When it comes to chronic pain and substance abuse, both are complex conditions to treat. They require addressing all facets associated with the conditions and often, they require a myriad of medications. But which comes first? Many times, people who are struggling with substance abuse and addiction have some sort of a chronic pain condition that has led to their predicament. Living with chronic pain conditions is a difficult undertaking that can be difficult for anyone. Often, the only way to find relief is to take these dangerously addictive opioid medications.

Chronic Pain and Opioid Abuse

Opioid pain medication are often prescribed to those individuals who struggle with pain conditions such as nerve and back pain. The effects of opioids can alleviate the pain a person feels, as well as produce euphoric effects that are often sought after. These medications are addictive and often lead to severe impacts to a person’s life. Because of the effects that opioids have on the brain and the body, they can be extremely difficult to stop using. As tolerance builds, more and more of the medications need to be used in order to achieve pain relief. When they run out, it can lead to seeking other opioid medications to find relief. 

The opioid epidemic across the country has become a hot-button issue for people from all walks of life. Chronic pain and substance abuse is a huge part of this epidemic. Many people who struggle with addiction often have some sort of traumatic accident leading to pain conditions in which they were prescribed opioid medications. Eventually, their dependence on these medications contributed to addiction to these and other substances. 

Other Medications Used Due to Chronic Pain

Because chronic pain can be debilitating, there are other conditions that could be side effects of the pain. Often, pain conditions cause changes to a person’s life that can be drastic. The inability to participate in activities they once did, go places they enjoy, and do things that make them happy can contribute to a person becoming anxious and depressed. Often, other medications are used to help alleviate these conditions as well.

Benzodiazepines and antidepressants are often administered to people who are struggling with chronic pain to help alleviate some of the mental health concerns that could arise. This can also lead to devastating results. Having the right care to address all facets, physically and mentally, is crucial to getting better. 

Fibromyalgia Patients and Opioid Abuse

Fibromyalgia is a chronic, long-term pain condition that affects a number of people across the country. Many are prescribed opioid pain medications in order to relieve some of the pain they endure on a daily basis. A study posted in the medical journal PAIN has connected opioid addiction and fibromyalgia. Those struggling with this condition, essentially, are more likely to abuse opioid pain medications. 

Chronic Pain and Alcohol Abuse

Chronic pain and substance abuse aren’t limited to just opioid pain medications. Alcohol is often abused by those who suffer from pain conditions. Alcohol can temporarily numb any physical and emotional distress someone may be experiencing. However, using alcohol as a means of coping with chronic pain can lead to a spiraling cycle. It can lead to dependence that can make the original pain worse and complicate the treatment process further.


Detox is a necessary process for those who are struggling with substance abuse. Removing the toxic chemicals from the body is essential to being able to heal and begin finding ways to treat chronic pain conditions. Proper medical supervision can help to alleviate the symptoms associated with detox and withdrawal and can help with relief from pain that could arise. 

Getting Better 

Chronic pain can be debilitating. Often, suffering from chronic pain leads to complications including substance abuse. Opioids, alcohol, and benzodiazepines are often things people turn to as a means of coping with their chronic pain. Proactive action to treat addiction to these substances is crucial.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse and chronic pain, Lexington Addiction Center can help. We offer comprehensive care to help those individuals who are struggling with substances. Reach out today and begin a journey of healing.