Humans go beyond borders to obtain relief of their pain. Sometimes that means doing drugs and consuming alcohol and liquor. The relief, unfortunately, is short-lived and when the physical pain is relieved, the emotional pain can be taxing. Coping with chronic pain by using illicit drug and drinking alcohol is a losing battle. It will temporarily “fix the problem” but will damage several other areas. This is in addition to the deleterious effects of alcohol and drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine on health, the brain, and the heart. Also there is evidence these interfere with pain medications and complicate things with your physician. Remember you signed a pain agreement stating you will not use any illicit substances or alcohol.

The negative effects of addiction are long lasting, if the patient over-lives that. Addiction is defined as a pathological, almost obsessive-compulsive disorder, where you know these substances cause harm you, nevertheless, you continue using them despite the presence of adequate pain relief and analgesia. Addiction is not as common as we may think. Using more medications does not mean the patient is addicted: increased use of pain medications because the patient has now increased physical activity, or there is recurrence of the disease causing worsening of the pain, may justify increasing pain medications.

To cope with pain, street drugs are never a good idea. The patient will develop tolerance, and he/she will need more and more drugs to achieve the same initial effect of relief.

There has been significant debate about the medicinal use for marijuana for pain relief and in chronic illness, such as in cancer and with chemotherapy. The controversy that is ongoing. For now it is not legal to use it.

Some of the negative effects of drugs and alcohol, other than health problems and financial ruin, fatigue, confusion, loss of interest in usual hobbies or people, emotional flatness, memory issues, interference with sleep, and increasing irritability and anger. Homicide, suicides and auto accidents are higher as well.

How to Resolve Drug/Alcohol Abuse:
1. If you suspect drug or alcohol abuse, get help as soon as possible. Consult your physician or a psychologist, AA, or the county for further help.

2. ‘Detoxification’ is an integral part of the treatment; the sooner, the better.

3. Avoid encouraging the use of medication for pain relief or for other effects: e.g., sedation, sleep, or ‘relaxation’

4. Avoid the use of “prn medications” and use medications that are long-acting. This can be done with consultation of your physician.

5. Invest your time in constructive things rather than destructive habits.

6. Learn coping skills and relaxation techniques.

7. Improve your spirituality and fill in the blanks in your personality and life.

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