Spirituality, Chronic Pain and Addiction

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

inspiration-422396_640For a person who is struggling with chronic pain, life can be dismal, frustrating, and even hopeless at times. Chronic pain can make it difficult to thrive in life and engage in relationships and/or activities that a person once enjoyed. Chronic pain is challenging in the sense that it persists for a significant length of time, sometimes weeks, months or even years.

Chronic pain conditions may result from certain physical conditions, which might include:

  • Endometriosis
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Arthritis
  • Joint dysfunction

Chronic pain can also be the result of an initial physical injury, such as from an accident, infection or illness.

Chronic Pain Is Difficult to Manage

Chronic pain can be difficult to treat and manage. If the original of the cause is known and understood, treatment may be more effective in managing pain. However in some instances, there may be no apparent cause of the chronic pain, which can make it more difficult to address any underlying issues that may be influencing the experience of pain.

Because the management of chronic pain can be difficult to diagnose or prevent, many individuals will attempt to find an effective solution for treatment and management. This approach may deal more with the symptoms involved rather than seeking to understand the root of the problem.

Medication Management and Addiction

Pills and Ink PenOne way in which pain is managed is through medication management. While medications can be effective in helping a person with chronic pain manage and decrease their symptoms, there are often more risks associated with this route of care, including risk of addiction and tolerance and unwanted side effects.

Many pain medications are highly addictive, particularly prescriptions from the opioid class (such as Vicodin, OxyContin, Morphine, Fentanyl, etc).

Developing an addiction to prescription painkillers can occur in people with chronic pain who take opioids for extended periods of time. If you or a loved one are unsure if you have developed an addiction to pain medications, it is important to be aware of symptoms such as an inability to control drug use, compulsive use of drugs, taking multiple doses of medications, or becoming unable to perform regular tasks due to medication use.

Seeking Out Help for Addiction

In the case that an addiction to pain medications has developed in an individual with chronic pain, seeking out professional and holistic care as early as possible can help intervene with dangerous behaviors and improve overall prognosis.

Because the battle with addiction and chronic pain can be intense and grueling, it is helpful to look to a Higher Power, something greater than oneself to hope and believe in. Many individuals struggling with chronic pain and addiction may find that spirituality can become an important component of healing and restoration between body, mind and spirit.

Taking a one-sided approach to chronic pain management and addiction recovery often dismiss or undermine the various aspects of an individual that make up the whole person. Incorporating treatment approaches that help address the many unique aspects of an individual can be effective in treating the complexity of chronic pain and addiction.

Finding Hope in Treatment

Closeup on medical doctor woman writing in clipboardIf you or a loved one has been suffering with an addiction as a result of chronic pain, it is important to know that there is help available for you. Perhaps you feel as though you have reached the end of your rope or that there is little for you to hope in, but the truth is that you are worth and deserving of healing and recovery.

Working with a professional treatment team can give you the multidisciplinary approach you need to treating each of your mental, physical and spiritual concerns. It is often said that we are not bodies with a spirit but spirits who have a body. Learning to heal your body, mind and spirit through your recovery from chronic pain and addiction can help you feel restored as a whole person.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

In what ways has spirituality served you in your recovery from chronic pain and addiction? What encouragement would you share with other individuals who may also be struggling with chronic pain and addiction?

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on June 19th, 2015
Published on AddictionHope.com