When dealing with chronic pain, many patients are prescribed opiates, like OxyContin. Unfortunately, most of these opiates are highly addictive. According to a study by the Center for Disease and Control CDC), an opioid prescription that lasted for over eight days increased the likelihood of drug use by 13.5% a year later. For a prescription of 31 days, the chances of long-term opioid use increased to 29.9%.
Opiate addiction is much more common than what most people believe. After getting hooked on opiates and opioids, it’s difficult to get clean. Sobriety may appear unattainable. However, that can’t be further from the truth. In addition to seeking opioid addiction treatment from a rehab facility, learn how to manage pain. By managing pain and finding different avenues for dealing with it, you can break opiate dependence. In fact, here are 9 wonderful ways that you can start.
#1. Release Natural Opiates Through Exercise
Scientists have known for a long time that exercise can reduce pain, and now studies can back it all up. A recent study measured the pain tolerance of patients. Patients who exercised regularly as part of their different treatment programs had a higher pain tolerance than those who didn’t. They could withstand more pain although their pain thresholds had not changed.
When exercising, the body releases several natural opiates, like endorphins. These endorphins attach to receptors in the brain to reduce pain and dampen discomfort. This effect is known as exercise-induced hypoalgesia. It lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes after the workout. There are a bunch of different types of exercises that can help. They include:
- Range-of-motion exercises. These types of exercises relieve stiffness. They also increase mobility around the joints. Most of these exercises are rather simple. They involve movements like rolling the shoulders forward and backward.
- Strengthening exercises. These types of exercises help build stronger muscles. Common exercises include bench pressing and weightlifting. It’s best to avoid working out the same muscle groups two days in a row.
- Aerobic exercises. These types of exercises improve your cardiovascular health, as well as general health. They include walking, biking and even swimming.
Other activities, no matter how small, can help reduce pain. Some people might go for just a quick walk or jog around the block. Others may rake leaves or even mow the lawn. Many treatment facilities incorporate some type of activity or exercise in their regime. Those with opioid use disorders will benefit from producing more natural opiates instead of relying on artificial products.
#2. Relax Via Deep Breathing Or Meditation
Meditation and deep breathing calm the mind. It can also recharge the body. Meditation and deep breathing both help lessen tension in the muscles. Tight muscles increase pressure on the nerves and receptors. This action can enhance pain. By relaxing through deep breathing and meditation, the pain-tension cycle breaks.
These techniques are particularly helpful in improving one’s mental health. Many rehab facilities offer yoga sessions and meditation rooms for addicts, especially those with a prescription opioid addiction.
Deep breathing is one of the easiest skills to practice. It involves taking deep breaths to lessen muscle tension. Shallow, rapid breathing is believed to cause tension.
If you are interested in learning deep breathing, you need to first find a quiet and warm room. Next, breathe deeply through your nose or mouth and relax your stomach muscles. Take deep, slow breaths at your own pace. When breathing out, picture tension leaving your body. This technique is great for dealing with withdrawal symptoms involved with an opiate addiction.
#3. Look For Ways To Release Stress
Did you know that negative feelings, like depression and stress, can increase your body’s sensitivity to pain? The more stressed you feel, the more sensitive to pain you become. If you learn how to take control of stress, you will find relief from pain and break opiate dependence.
There are many different types of techniques that you can use to reduce stress. Try spending time doing hobbies and relaxing activities. Some of the most recommend techniques include:
- Listening to relaxing and soothing music
- Using mental imagery for a mental escape
- Relaxing with progressive muscle relaxation
Relieving stress relaxes the muscles. This puts less pressure on pain receptors in the body. In addition, less stress results in the more natural production of neurotransmitters responsible for creating feelings of euphoria. People who are less stressed are more likely to feel happy and pain-free. They are also less likely to reuse opioids or be at risk for an opioid overdose.
#4. Switch to a Healthier Diet
Your diet can make a world of a difference when it comes to pain management. You are what you eat. Many nutritionists recommend including natural painkillers into your diet. This is an easy way for managing pain without using conventional analgesics. The main types of natural painkillers to look for include:
- Curcumin, which is found in turmeric and works as an anti-inflammatory drug.
- Quercetin, which is found in red onions, red wine, and citrus fruits. This natural compound inhibits inflammation.
- Omega-3 fats, which are found in salmon and walnuts.
The real magic happens when all of these natural compounds are taken together at the same time. It’s important to have a good amount of these compounds in your diet to help ease pain. These compounds often also have other health benefits. For example, curcumin prevents cognitive decline that’s associated with aging. It keeps your mind healthy and active.
Eating healthy can also be quite beneficial for your pain. This includes eating natural products and shying away from processed foods. Those who are more unhealthy are more likely to experience other health conditions that might exacerbate the pain. This is why it’s important to find a rehab facility that offers healthy dining options.
#5. Try Acupuncture
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommends acupuncture for pain relief. There are different approaches and schools to acupuncture. The different schools target pain relief in different ways.
The Eastern school attempts to balance the body’s flow of yin and yang energy. Fine needles are inserted into specific acupressure points in the body. The Western approach, on the other hand, inserts a needle directly into the center of the affected area. Both approaches are effective and can help manage pain.
By inserting acupuncture needles into the body, the central nervous system gets stimulated. This diffuses pain signals in the brain and dulls pain. The insertion of a needle also stimulates blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow reduces inflammation, eases muscle spasms and stimulates endorphin production. Endorphins are one of the body’s natural painkillers. It eases pain naturally. An increase in endorphins can help many opioid addicts break free of opiate dependence.
There have been many cases where acupuncture has successfully offered pain relief. Recent studies have explored the positive correlation between chronic lower-back pain relief and acupuncture. Acupuncture not only treats pain, but also improves function in that area of the body.
Several acupuncture sessions may be needed before an effect is felt. You may need to continuously get acupuncture to help ease and manage pain. If you’re afraid of needles, you can try acupressure instead. It works in a similar way to acupuncture. This technique is great for treating alcohol dependence and drug dependence. It works by easing any withdrawal syndrome associated with addiction. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be particularly difficult to overcome.
#6. Give The Hanna Somatics A Whirl
The Hanna Somatics is an interesting mind-body technique created by Dr. Thomas Hanna in the 1970s. This neuromuscular movement re-education is highly effective. It also treats the root cause of most chronic muscular pain. This way, opiates are not needed anymore.
The heart of this therapy functions under the belief that the brain is the control center for muscles. As a result, those who learn how to control the brain can indirectly control their muscles or nerves. Drug addicts who are trying out the techniques in Hanna Somatics will be guided through several slow, mindful movements. These movements increase awareness of tension and movement in the body. It helps the brain learn how to sense and organize muscle movement. They learn how to regain awareness and sensation in the motor control of muscles via an educational process. This leads to improved muscle function and enhanced sensory awareness. Surprisingly, this is a good way to ease pain and manage stress.
This technique targets sensory motor amnesia (SMA). It’s also great for those who are looking to break opiate dependence. It can not only relieve pain, but also deal with:
- Stiff or painful muscles and joints
- Poor posture
- Back pain
- Repetitive use injuries, or stress injuries
This technique is easy to learn and easy to pick up. There are many classes out there that teach this. Many opioid users or drug abusers with a substance abuse disorder have tried this therapy. They highly recommend it. It basically reteaches the brain how to function. Constant stimulation of the opioid receptors may have caused some connections to become wonky.
#7. Seek Relief Using Hypnosis
Substance abuse and mental health problems often come hand in hand. The treatment of opioid dependence should include improving mental connections in the brain. Out of all the potential methods available, hypnosis is believed to be quite effective. In fact, a study conducted at Harvard found that hypnosis was effective in reducing pain from surgery. This technique works by refocusing the mind away from pain.
Several sessions may be needed for hypnosis to work. This type of maintenance treatment can help patients learn how to diminish the focus on pain. Hypnosis can also be used as a treatment for opioid addiction. It can be especially helpful for patients with a high drug tolerance.
#8. Get An Injection Of Your Own Blood
Although it doesn’t sound appealing, getting an injection of your own blood can help treat pain. In fact, this technique is known as platelet-rich plasma therapy (PRP), and it’s been used to treat a variety of medical conditions in the US for decades. Patients who received PRP were likely to report a 60% reduction in pain. This means that this technique is a great treatment for opioid abuse.
How does this treatment work? Platelets stimulate a healing cascade in the body. When injected back into the body, it will stimulate cells and cause them to start to repair any damaged tissues that are nearby. This causes a rush of certain neurotransmitters that can also help reset the brain. The entire process causes patients to feel more at ease. This type of treatment may help many drug abusers deal with dependence and addiction to opioids and opiates.
If you’re interested in this type of treatment, make sure that you get it from healthcare providers. Only professionals should attempt this. It’s also important to let the healthcare providers know if you are taking any prescription pain medications at the time. If you are taking any prescription medicines, you may not be able to try this treatment out. This type of treatment may be more of a maintenance treatment for staying off of prescription pain medications and other drugs and alcohol.
#9. Find And Join A Support Group
A huge part of pain is emotional. If you learn how to handle yourself emotionally, you’ll be able to easily break free from opiate dependence. Therapy and support groups do wonders in easing psychological symptoms. Psychological dependence is equally as hard to break free from. Your body may no longer crave the drug, but your mind does. There are plenty of options to choose from. Some of the most popular options with good evidence backing them up include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
- 12 Step programs
- Family counseling
- Group counseling
- One-on-one counseling
- Motivational Interviewing
Therapies can target different signs and symptoms of addiction. They can teach you how to identify triggers and build better habits. They can also help correct substance abuse and mental health issues. Most therapies teach different techniques for the management of opioid abuse. Addiction to opioids can be difficult to recover from. There are support groups for those who are attempting to wean off of pain medications or off of a heroin addiction.