Opiate Addicts in Recovery Seek Alternative Pain Relief

Published: Jul. 17, 2018 at 5:27 PM EDT
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It's a by-product of getting clean and sober from opiate or heroin addiction. How do you manage serious pain without narcotics? You can't take the opiates that more than likely led to your addiction to begin with. But the medical world is now actively using other forms of pain relief to treat surgical, injury or chronic pain.

Michael Ward has battled addiction to opiates and heroin for over 25-years. "The opioids definitely took me down the path of stealing, lying, just basically destroying everything that was around me," says Ward. So when Ward was diagnosed with eye cancer 4 months into recovery, opiate pain medication was not an option. "I wanted no part of that at all. Ward opted for plain Motrin after surgery to remove his left eye and he says it took care of the post surgical pain. But he's part of a growing number of recovering opiate and heroin addicts like Jordan Weaver, who need to avoid narcotics at all cost. "I won't take a Tylenol or anything unless it's absolutely needed. I've done it maybe twice since I got sober 9-months ago," says Weaver.

While Tylenol and Motrin are fine in recovery, being exposed to opiates again does pose a risk. "Of coarse having an existing history of previous addiction will increase the chance or relapse," says Mercy Health Pain Management Specialist Dr. Rashid Khalil. As a result doctors are coming up with different ways to relieve post surgical or injury pain. If you're having an abdominal surgery or limb surgery, there are nerve blocks available that can significantly manage pain," says Khalil. And these nerve bhlocks can be used up to a few days post surgery.

There are other more commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory or pain relievers that can be alternated and even administered before surgery to prevent some types of pain from getting started. For Ward it worked, "The pain wasn't really there. I didn't really feel much."