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5 Non-Opioid Pain Management Options for Those in Long-Term Recovery


December 9, 2017

What happens when you are in addiction recovery and you have an unexpected back injury so painful that pain management medication is the only option for you? Or perhaps you need to head to the hospital for some minor surgery, and you are not sure what you are going to do about pain management when you are discharged. When you are recovering from an opioid addiction, the last thing you want to do is have opioids prescribed to you for pain management. What strategies can you use instead?

1. Non-Opioid Pain Medication 

There are some prescription drugs that do not fall under the category of opioids, and they can be useful if you have a specific health concern. According to Harvard Health, these include:

  • Triptans for migraine headaches
  • Gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica) for nerve pain
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)

Some of these pain relievers address specific health issues and are available by prescription, while others are available over the counter.

2. Therapies for Pain Relief 

There are many therapies that do not involve taking medication at all. These include:

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), which uses electricity to block pain signals that are traveling to the brain
  • Ultrasound, which moves sound into tissue and increases blood circulation
  • Cold laser therapy, which can improve tissue repair
  • Acupuncture, which releases endorphins which help with pain relief
  • Biofeedback, which helps you control your body’s response to pain

3. Realigning Your Body 

Some pain is from surgery, but other pain is chronic and may be addressed by ongoing work on the way that you move. If you are in pain, you can also try therapies that help you address the source of the pain by realigning your body. These include chiropractic therapy, massage, physiotherapy, and devices such as braces and splints. Physical and occupational therapy can also be used to alleviate certain types of pain.

4. Reducing Weight and Increasing Activity 

While reducing weight and increasing activity can seem almost impossible when you are in pain, it can be very beneficial in the long run. If your pain is caused in part by extra weight, committing to a weight loss program can help you strive toward a goal that will benefit your body. Exercise keeps your body moving, especially when you combine different types of exercise, such as cardio and stretching.

5. Mind Over Matter 

In addition to other therapies, you can use mental techniques to help you manage your pain. These involve everything from psychotherapy to techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, and hypnosis. According to the CDC, cognitive behavioral therapy can help with its “psychological, goal-directed approach in which patients learn how to modify physical, behavioral, and emotional triggers of pain and stress.”

At Advanced Recovery Systems, we focus on your addiction recovery in the long term. Whether you are looking for housing, a social group, or specific strategies such as pain management, you can turn to us for advice. Are you beginning or continuing the journey of addiction recovery? Talk with us today.

We are here to help 24/7 321.527.2576