“Much of your pain is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.” – Khalil Gibran
[Note: This blog-post is meant to address how those of us in recovery from addiction can deal most effectively with pain, focusing mainly on chronic pain. Although there may, at times, be some overlap, we won’t be dealing here with drugs prescribed by a doctor to treat addiction.]
Certainly, feeling pain is not what most people want, yet many of us who come into recovery from addiction have a high tolerance for pain. We’ve spent years, if not decades, “medicating” ourselves from emotional pain and/or physical pain. However, learning to manage our pain—especially chronic physical pain—is essential if we are to maintain our ongoing freedom from active addiction.
Some of the initial ingredients to consider for a healthy approach to dealing with pain—including chronic pain deemed a medical condition—are the spiritual principles we’ve been learning in recovery. Treatment center staff, our counselor or therapist, or our 12 Steps sponsor can be excellent sources of guidance and encouragement when we’re trying to figure out how to live as successfully as possible with chronic pain. Three principles that seem quite apropos are honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness.
When we share honestly with our medical care providers not only about the nature of our painful condition but also the fact that we’re recovering from substance abuse, we’re giving them important information they can take into consideration when they’re evaluating, diagnosing and prescribing medication(s) for us.
Similarly, if we’re honest with the people in our recovery network—including treatment center staff, if applicable—about our pain or any anxiety, thoughts or urges to “make the pain go away” we may have, they can then respond to us in the most supportive way possible.
The fact is, being honest about having chronic pain can be challenging, and we may feel to shy away from sharing the details of such personal information. However, by honestly expressing what’s really going on with us and the pain we’re experiencing—one-on-one with a trusted friend in recovery, a treatment staff member, counselor or therapist, or our sponsor—we can seize an opportunity to be responsible and can remain accountable to those who’ve shown they’re worthy of our trust.
By committing ourselves to remaining open-minded, we can seek out the suggestions that will help us deal with chronic pain as effectively as possible. One example of this is asking our doctor or medical provider about alternative treatments for pain. Oftentimes, there will be numerous options that can be used to address our particular condition.
We can also turn to the experience of recovering addicts in our network (or our sponsor) who have gone through similar situations, getting the benefit of their experience, strength, and hope. They may end up sharing with us something that worked for them, which we may apply to our striving to maintain our recovery in the face of chronic pain. If we keep open-minded about what they convey to us, it may prove valuable in our decision-making.
We strive to remain willing to explore all treatment options available to us and to communicate honestly and openly with those in our medical and recovery networks. When we’re willing to follow closely the recommendations of the medical professionals we’re working with, as well as the addiction treatment professionals (where applicable) and those in our recovery network who we rely upon for support (e.g., our sponsor), we find the journey forward is often smoothed out by the guidance we receive.
When dealing with pain in recovery, using the spiritual principle of honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness can help us create a network of safeguards to protect us from ourselves, when dealing with pain in recovery. The bottom line can be summed up well by a statement often heard in recovery circles: “We surrender to the pain, accept our illness (or condition), and reach out for help.” 
Treatment at BoardPrep Recovery in Tampa, Florida meets the highest standards in the field for drug addiction help. Our treatment program aligns with national best-practice guidelines prescribed by leading researchers. At BoardPrep, a multi-disciplinary team of experts performs each assessment. BoardPrep offers all available levels of care, thus tailoring the treatment to the individual need.
BoardPrep includes treatment for other mental health problems. For instance, depression, anxiety, and trauma often play a big role in substance use disorders. Therefore, BoardPrep’s addiction psychiatrists continue to see patients at least weekly for the first month of day-night treatment. Also, treatment addresses family and environmental risk issues. A licensed and experienced therapist performs weekly webinars with the families and schedules family sessions as needed.
Contact us online or by calling 866.796.4720 to receive more support and addiction treatment programs for your overall health.
 “In Times of Illness”, Copyright © 1992, 2010 by Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc.