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Chronic Pain Management and Opiate Abuse: When to Consider Rehab Treatment

Opiates remain the standard of care for treating most any type of pain symptom, particularly in cases of chronic pain. With the range of opiate drugs on the market, a person may be exposed to any number of drug types depending on one’s pain symptoms respond to treatment.

Over time, the therapeutic effects of opiates tend to wane, at which point a person requires larger doses or a new type of drug altogether. These developments warrant cause for concern as opiates carry a high potential for abuse and addiction, especially when used on a long-term basis. For these reasons, understanding how opiates work can help you get needed rehab treatment in the event of a developing drug problem.

Chronic Pain

Acute injuries, chronic medical conditions, such as cancer and chronic ailments such as back pain may all require some form of pain treatment over extended time periods. In general, pain symptoms lasting for three months or longer are considered chronic in nature.

According to the U. S. National Library of Medicine, chronic pain can take two forms: nociceptive and neuropathic. Nociceptive pain results from actual tissue damage that stimulates pain receptors. Neuropathic pain develops out of damage to the body’s central nervous system functions. The type of pain at issue for the most part determines what type of opiate drug will work best.

How Do Opiates Work?

chronic pain and opiate abuse

Long-term opiate use can actually make pain symptoms worse.

Opiates work by blocking incoming pain signals from reaching the brain. Drugs commonly used to treat chronic pain symptoms include:

  • OxyContin
  • Lorset
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Fentanyl
  • Dilaudid

In effect, opiates stimulate neurotransmitter production in the brain, most notably dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters act as the body’s own “feel good” chemicals with the brain’s cells secreting chemical supplies on an as-needed basis. With long-term opiate use, these interactions warp the brain’s chemical processes, which can lead to serious health complications over time.

When to Consider Rehab Treatment

The Opiate Abuse Cycle

With continued opiate use, the brain becomes less responsive to the drug’s effects. When this happens, a person will have to increase the dosage amount and/or dosage frequency in order to experience the pain-relieving effects of the drug. Over time, a vicious cycle takes shape as brain tolerance levels continue to rise in accordance with increased dosage amounts. The longer this cycle continues, the more damage done to the brain’s chemical system.

Increasing Pain Symptoms

After so many months or years of opiate use, the body’s central nervous system starts to undergo considerable damage. At this point, opiate effects can actually make pain symptoms worse. While your physician may opt to put you on a different type of pain medication, it’s not uncommon for a person to have developed an opiate addiction problem once this degree of damage is present.

Hidden Signs of Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Treatment Considerations

According to the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, an estimated 20 to 24 percent of chronic pain sufferers engage in opiate abuse practices, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Considering how opiate abuse only works to worsen chronic pain symptoms, getting needed rehab treatment is essential to restoring a person’s overall health and well-being.

If you suspect you or someone you know struggles with chronic pain and opiate abuse, please don’t hesitate to call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6320 for more information. Our phone counselors can also help you locate rehab treatment programs in your area.

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