How to Choose Assistance in Getting Off Painkillers

There’s only a fine line between a real need for chronic pain medications and the abyss of narcotic addiction. Intractable chronic pain needs treatment or it can ruin your life: uproot your marriage, destroy your job and condemn you to debilitating depression. When faced with problematic painkiller addiction, you must seek the proper professional assistance.

A Serious Problem

How bad does the problem get with using chronic pain relievers? The following is a  very typical history shared by a patient:

“I can’t even count the times I tried and failed to get off painkillers. For three years I tried to stop taking that stuff! It just about destroyed my marriage, it shut off my sex life, emptied my bank account, made me unemployable. I was unable to even leave my house without taking my pills with me. I hid the problem from my family.

“It all started with my back pain that just wouldn’t go away. That’s when I got addicted. I was enslaved by my addiction. My pills were an evil presence I couldn’t avoid. For months after I kicked the habit they kept calling to me, trying to get me to take them again.

“The withdrawal was torture. Everything hurt, even my hair! I got chills, diarrhea, aches and pains, depression. And I was shaking all the time.”

A Better Life

Often, if you’re addicted to chronic pain relievers you fail to grasp that you can have a better life without the drugs. Instead, you believe the drugs are impossible to give up; you believe that you must have these pills to live a normal life. That’s when you need professional assistance; you can’t get off them all by yourself.

But you need to distinguish between programs that are effective and those that are just set up to make money and keep you addicted.

Prescription Drug Rehab

Many programs offer methadone, another narcotic analgesic, as a substitute for the drug you want to eliminate. Unfortunately, this change of addiction can drag on for months or even years. These types of programs charge you money to come and get their drugs but do not offer you a clear course of action to become drug-free. Buprenorphine is a very similar medication to methadone. It, too, is only a substitute drug for the drug of addiction. Tthis is an unacceptable procedure. The sad thing  in Utah, is that for many years clinics offering these drugs were and still are in alliance with state authorities, who send offenders to these types of programs.

Also, you should beware of rapid or so-called ultra-rapid detoxification protocols using anesthesia. These use the antidote drug naltrexone (Narcan®) to abruptly reverse the effects of a narcotic while keeping you under anesthesia for a few hours to block the severe symptoms of withdrawal. To me this approach can work well for the first stage of detoxification (when the addictive drug is still in your bloodstream) but I can’t see how it reaches the tissues and fat where the drug has become stored for months to years. Furthermore, these methods do not address the psychological addiction that must be overcome, nor the source of the pain, be it physiological or psychological.

Comprehensive Program

A comprehensive program built on some key components serves best. This is lifestyle training. These kinds of effective programs should offer to:

  • Address the underlying causes of pain (physical and emotional) and clearly identify the perceived need for narcotic pain relievers.
  • Supply safe pain-relief measures and medicines and eliminate the narcotic completely. If physical pain persists, it should offer supplements to reduce pain and build health when possible.
  • Offer techniques for detoxification of the drug from all body tissues over a full month to eliminate drug molecules stored in tissues (addiction triggers). These techniques enhance drug elimination via skin, bowels, kidney, lymphatics and lungs.
  • Provide nutritional support and training: Cleansing, detoxification, juicing, whole foods, raw foods.
  • Give spiritual and emotional training, teaching healthy responses to pain.
  • Teach a support person who can help with long-term successful recovery after the program ends and real life begins again.

You can see that for those on high doses of narcotic pain relievers, professional help is available. Comprehensive programs can provide the tools for successfully becoming drug-free and to manage or eliminate pain for a better quality of life. It takes a bit of searching online to find an appropriate program near you. But once you understand these search criteria you can make better choices.

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