Are you anxious about undergoing a medical procedure while in addiction recovery? Are you hesitant to take prescription medications for fear of relapsing? These dilemmas pose unique sobriety challenges for those in both early and long-term recovery. With a little planning and a proactive approach to post-operative care, the following tips from Jerome Lerner, MD, director of Sierra Tucson’s Pain Recovery Program, can help lower the risk of relapse and guide recovering addicts into a successful healing process.
- Get Honest with Your Provider
Prior to surgery, talk to your health care provider and let him or her know you are in recovery. When treating a patient for pain, a doctor needs to look for potential risk factors of substance abuse. Having a conversation about your concerns of relapse will prompt your doctor to carefully assess your situation and select an anesthetic and/or medication that will be in the best interest of your recovery. When a situation warrants medication, it is not safe to under-medicate or over-medicate—the most effective route for managing pain is to consult your provider for post-operative recovery techniques and a tailored treatment plan.
- Ask for Help
If you are concerned about having medication in your home, ask someone else to monitor your follow-up treatment and dispense your medicine at the designated times. If that is not an option, a pharmacist can partially fill a prescription on a schedule.
- Take a Non-Narcotic Approach
Similar to tip #1, maintain regular conversations with your doctor after surgery and secure his or her permission to switch to non-narcotics as soon as possible. Examples of non-narcotics include Tylenol (chemical name: acetaminophen); non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin, Motrin or Advil (chemical name: ibuprofen), Aleve or Naprosyn (chemical name: naproxen sodium); and hot and cold packs, to name a few. This approach to pain management post-surgery may help expedite the healing process, thereby resulting in less pain, and reducing the risk of opioid dependence.
- Get Real with Your Recovery Network
Honesty and open-mindedness are essentials in addiction recovery. Don’t be afraid to seek counsel or talk with your sponsor or support system if you are experiencing cravings or feelings of withdrawal or despair. There is strength in numbers—realizing you are not alone and that intense feelings will pass can help you stay sober throughout the process.
Surgical pain is common and often expected, but each individual’s pain tolerance varies. If symptoms evolve into chronic pain that disrupt normal movement, functioning, and daily activities, adversely affecting your overall quality of life, seek professional help without delay. At Sierra Tucson, we understand how debilitating chronic pain can be. Our Pain Recovery Program is tailored to meet the needs of men and women who are struggling with complicated pain and the conditions that cause it.
Click here to learn more about Sierra Tucson’s Pain Recovery Program, or call (800) 842-4487. For more information about the safe and appropriate use of medicines in honor of “Talk About Your Medicines” month, visit www.talkaboutrx.org.