Addiction Helpline and Resource Center

Arthritis Pain and Addiction

Arthritis Pain and AddictionArthritis is a progressive disease that involves the inflammation of one or more joints in the body. There are over 100 kinds of arthritis. It is a painful condition that has numerous treatment options but no known cure. The most common treatment for severe arthritis is prescription medication to reduce inflammation and block pain. Some of these medications can be addictive.

Prescription Painkiller Addiction

Most prescription painkillers work by preventing the transmission of pain signals to the brain. These drugs tend to be opiates, meaning they are distilled or synthesized from the same poppy base that is used to create opium and heroin. Although the refinement in these medications reduces the intoxicating effects of the drugs, they do still have the potential to give the user a euphoric high and will block symptoms of emotional anxiety, distress or depression.

The body stops producing its own natural supply of pain managing chemicals while opiates are present, so users will experience symptoms of withdrawal if and when they quit taking the medication. Users will also often develop a tolerance to the medication, meaning that they will gradually need higher and higher doses to feel the desired effects. This kind of use can lead to an addiction to the drug that will cause negative physical and psychological effects.

Psychological Effects of Painkiller Abuse

Anxiety, emotional distress and even mild depression are normal emotional responses to a chronic illness such as arthritis. It is good for patients to discuss both their joint pain and their emotional symptoms with medical and psychological professionals. Prescription painkillers will provide short-term relief from negative emotions, and this temporary relief can lead to a psychological addiction that is even more powerful than any physical dependency. This type of addiction is hard to detect, but, once it is established, it can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Dishonesty about drug use
  • Visiting multiple doctors or pharmacies to get extra medication
  • Taking medication at higher doses or more frequently than prescribed
  • Decreased efficacy of pain management

Arthritis treatment often requires physical therapy or medical treatment. This process can be frustrating and exhausting, and persistent physical pain often causes deep emotional or psychological pain. This does not mean that drug abuse is ever the right answer. Talk with your doctor to learn about alternatives for pain management and options for therapy and counseling that can relieve the psychological effects of chronic illness.

Answers to Arthritis and Addiction Questions

Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, and we offer the following free services:

  • Answers to any questions about arthritis and addiction
  • Drug abuse or addiction assessment
  • Access to the best addiction recovery treatment programs available
  • Confirmation of insurance coverage for physical and mental health recovery

All calls are confidential and commitment free, so please call now.

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