Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, a 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992 when he had a year sober. He's in his 27th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he sometimes disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Dealing with Pain

A reader writes tells me she feels “like a hypocrite" because she goes to recovery meetings while on pain medication for her back.

She feels trapped between pain and addiction. She can't stand the pain. Yet she's afraid she'll slip into dependence.

And her issue is real for all us addicts.

When I had stomach surgery 10 years ago I shared her concerns. When I awoke after surgery I felt so good I thought I'd gone to heaven. I was in joy and bliss and wrapped in a blanket of ecstasy. Every cell in my body was shouting "yes."

I asked what they'd given me and the nurse said dilaudid - which is a heroin addict's dream.

I said not to give me any more of it because I'm a opiate addict. But the doctor said I needed it because I wouldn't heal as well if I were in pain.

However, they lowered the dose quickly, then switched me to less addictive painkillers. So I safely made it through without relapsing. And with ten days I was taking only Ibuprofen.

In this reader's situation I’d follow medical advice. But, I would also explore natural remedies that might help. Some of these include yoga, meditation and visualization.

Also, she could discuss this issue with her sponsor or other members of her recovery group. They have likely confronted this same issue and may have ideas for her. And that's what the groups are for.

Something my sponsor told me about taking pain medication has stuck with me. He said that if I was asking myself and others whether I should take it then I probably wasn't abusing it.

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