How Do Drug Abuse Rehab Centers Help Healthily Treat Chronic Pain?

How do drug abuse rehab centers help healthily treat chronic pain? Well, there are a number of ways to do this. Drug abuse rehabs that offer this sort of treatment consider this to be a form of dual diagnosis. Just like someone can have a substance abuse disorder and a mental disorder at the same time, someone could also have a concurrent chronic pain and substance abuse issue. People will self-treat pain just like they would self-medicate for a mental disorder. It’s all connected. In fact, most pain management specialists offer chronic pain treatment for substance abusers, too. Many drug rehabs offering dual diagnosis treatment will have an addiction medicine specialist on staff.


Not all chronic pain requires opioids to control it. There are other ways, such as non-addictive medications, biofeedback, meditation and procedures like epidural and joint injections of steroids and other drugs. Someone who has been self-medicating with opioids may not even realize this. One major problem with opioids is that they cause changes in the brain. Some may even be permanent. It’s these chemical changes in the brain that drive addictive behavior in susceptible individuals. It’s also why it’s so hard to stop using a drug once you’re addicted. It’s these chemical brain changes that cause the misery of withdrawal, too.

No one is sure why one person becomes addicted and another does not. Genetics plays a role. So does environment and trauma in someone’s past. When it comes to drugs, everyone is different. One day there might even be smart drugs tailored to someone’s individual chemistry!

Holistic Therapy

Drug rehabs will definitely discourage someone with both chronic pain and substance abuse disorder from continuing with opioids. During your stay at their facility, you will definitely not be allowed to take any kind of addictive drug for pain or for any other reason. They will try a number of different therapies that may control your pain without opioids. In fact, their goal will always be to find non-drug ways to sufficiently control pain for good.

These may include:

  • Herbs
  • Yoga, meditation and biofeedback
  • Talk therapy
  • EMDR with or without hypnosis
  • Holistic therapy with art, music and animals

Holistic therapy is becoming very popular. It may also include hiking, communing with nature, swimming and water ballet, exercise and sports and creative writing. Writing serves as both a creative outlet and a way to purge stress and bad feelings from the past. Poetry may be particularly therapeutic. These methods are the kinds of therapy that drug rehabs will always try first. Sometimes they work together to help with both the substance abuse problem and the chronic pain. However, with some very painful conditions and past injuries, this likely won’t be enough to control pain.

When Holistic Methods Fail

At this point, the drug rehab would likely try different non-addictive medications for pain. Some of these are NSAIDs, which stands for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. These work by reducing inflammation. Ibuprofen and aspirin are both NSAIDs. Other medications the rehab might try include gabapentin, pregabalin, celecoxib, muscle relaxants, fluoxetine and other antidepressants. Because of the way they work in the brain, certain antidepressants may also relieve some types of pain.

Rehabs believe in a multi-faceted approach to pain control. They would encourage the use of several methods at the same time. So, the medications would be added to the holistic therapy in hopes that the combination would be enough.

After Rehab

You will not be receiving opioid treatments for pain while in a drug rehab, but the methods they offer you may work for you. If they do, that’s wonderful. If not, you do have another option after you leave the rehab. The best thing to do is go to a pain medicine specialist and tell him or her the truth. They treat this kind of problem all the time. As long as your medical records and examination indicate the need for opioid pain relief, you should be able to still get it. However, expect strict compliance requirements and only methadone. Methadone is an extremely effective opioid pain killer, but it causes little to no euphoria. It can be prescribed for pain in five and 10 milligram doses for use at home.

For Help

If you have chronic pain and a problem with opioids, you’re not alone. There is help, and we can help you get it. Our 24-hour number is 833-820-2922. Call anytime to speak to a professional drug counselor. We look forward to speaking with you.