The number of people who turn to alcohol in order to alleviate pain is staggering. Chronic pain and alcohol abuse, combined, can be a ticking time bomb. Pain causes discomfort and disruption in the everyday lives of individuals who suffer from it. When they turn to alcohol as a means of coping and alleviating the pain symptoms, it can result in far more devastating results. The impacts that alcohol abuse can have on someone not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally, can be extremely detrimental. This is why proper care and support can be beneficial for those who suffer with chronic pain and struggle with alcohol abuse. 

What is Chronic Pain?

Many Americans struggle with pain on a daily basis. Pain that is persistent and lasts for more than 3 months is considered to be chronic pain. It can happen in any part of the body, causes impacts to daily life, and can lead to depression and anxiety. This pain may be a continual, all day sensation, or it can come and go. The causes of chronic pain can sometimes be obvious. Sometimes a broken bone or other injury leads to long lasting pain. Other times, it can seemingly come from nowhere. There is no obvious illness or physical injury that contributed to the onset of the pain. However, the key to treating chronic pain is to identify and treat the cause. When that is not possible, or there is no obvious or identifiable root cause, there are combinations of medications, lifestyle changes and therapies that can be beneficial.

Chronic Pain, Alcohol, and Mental Health

Chronic pain is a condition that can cause changes in an individual’s mental health. Because it is persistent and ongoing for long periods of time, chronic pain often leads to depression and anxiety. Chronic pain and alcohol abuse can only make these mental health conditions worsen over time. Often, when people struggle with mental health conditions, they turn to alcohol as a means of coping and self medicating. This practice generally leads to the worsening of symptoms. 

Chronic Pain as a Trigger for Alcohol Abuse

Chronic pain and alcohol abuse are commonly seen together. Meaning that an individual who may be suffering from chronic pain could turn to alcohol abuse in order to alleviate the symptoms. The effects of alcohol on the body can seemingly numb out pain, and this leads to alcohol abuse in individuals who are suffering with chronic, persistent pain symptoms. This can not only lead to the pain actually worsening, but it can also lead to a myriad of other issues including alcohol addiction.

Chronic Pain, Alcohol and Opioid Abuse

Commonly, those suffering with pain are prescribed opioid painkillers in order to manage the pain. Opioids are also illicitly produced and sought out. Because of their pain relieving properties, people who struggle with chronic pain often turn to these highly addictive substances to alleviate their pain. This can easily turn into abusing them and resulting in an individual developing a tolerance and dependence. Opioids like heroin and fentanyl are leading causes of opioid related overdose and death. Turning to drugs and alcohol can be detrimental to a person’s life and even healing from chronic pain. Chronic pain and alcohol abuse can contribute to an individual seeking out illicit opioids.

Short and Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

The effects of chronic pain and alcohol abuse on a person’s life can be extremely life altering. Short term, alcohol abuse can result in intoxication, slurred speech, slowed motor movement and loss of consciousness. Long term, alcohol abuse can result in far more devastating things. Alcohol abuse can wreak havoc on a person’s body resulting in severe impacts to health and overall wellbeing. Mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety can worsen due to alcohol abuse. Organs can begin to deteriorate in functionality, and eventually result in organ failure. Suffering with chronic pain and alcohol abuse becoming a coping mechanism can cause severe impacts and changes in a person’s life.

Treatment and Support Systems

Treatment for alcohol abuse can be beneficial. Overcoming and beginning a healthier lifestyle is vital to being able to address chronic pain and begin healing. Having proper support to remove the toxins alcohol introduces to the body can help ensure successful recovery. Once the alcohol is removed, it is vital to have peer and family support to maintain the ability to manage and live with chronic pain, and prevent returning to alcohol abuse. Help is available.

Overcoming Alcohol Abuse

Chronic pain can be a contributing factor to alcohol abuse. The seemingly numbing effects of alcohol can lead someone to believe that they have relief. Continued misuse of alcohol can result in far worse impacts to an individual’s life. If you or a loved one are suffering with chronic pain and as a result have begun struggling with alcohol, you are not alone. Many people have the same struggle and the good news is, there is help available. At Spirit Mountain Recovery we aim to provide a safe and healing environment for those who are struggling. Call us today!

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