There are several concerns when it comes to substance abuse and pain treatment. Like many situations, sometimes it is difficult to determine which came first. In the case of painkiller abuse often it can be a chronic pain condition that leads to increased dependency on medications, especially opiods. In other cases, pain can occur during attempts at withdrawal or even as a result of an accident. Does substance abuse in and of itself cause pain?
While substance abuse is commonly linked to psychological symptoms, we should also understand the ways in which it can manifest as physical pain.
The most common physical manifestation of substance abuse is sleeplessness or insomnia. Not having a proper sleep schedule can lead to specific pain conditions such as low back pain and migraine headaches. Thus, the cycle continues as addicted individuals will continue to use the substance to feel better physically while they are awake.
Long-term use of some substances can also cause permanent changes or damage in the brain. This can lead to a variety of pain conditions, seizures, and even death. Some drugs cause problems with the digestive system leading to abdominal pain.
When substance abuse manifests in physical pain symptoms it may often go unnoticed because of the psychological effects. Many specialists today understand that if they do not treat all related conditions the probability of relapse is significantly higher. For instance, an abuser who is experiencing chronic back pain is likely to revert back to using drugs to find relief rather than seeking proper medical attention.
Another possible cause of chronic pain in relation to substance abuse is the potential for accidents. For example, driving a car while intoxicated can lead to an automobile accident that results in long term chronic pain conditions, such as back or neck pain.
Are you concerned about substance abuse and pain in your life or with someone you care about?
Image by Kiran Foster via Flickr