Some patients with chronic pain who use addictive medication for pain management never experience negative consequences. So why do other patients develop an addictive disorder? The answer to this often depends upon various factors, such as genetics, co-existing disorders, and environmental dynamics. For further comprehension it is also important to have a good understanding of addiction.
So why is there a transition that chronic pain patients make that go from using the pain medication for pain relief to using it either for emotional coping or perhaps for its euphoric effects? This question can be answered, in part, by understanding the relationship of brain reward mechanisms and the behavior of using psychoactive medication, or alcohol and other drugs.
The brain reward mechanism demonstrates that the tendency toward drug seeking behavior is strongly linked to progressive alterations in the function of the brain, and in late stages to the development of structural damage to the brain and other organ systems. The NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) research clearly shows that there are biomedical processes that occur within the brain that reinforces the regular and heavy use of psychoactive chemicals. These biomedical brain reinforcement processes are different from the classic withdrawal syndrome.
The mind is capable of formulating thoughts that produce strong positive biological reinforcement. These thoughts often take the form of positive judgments about behavior that reflects itself in self-talk such as “Doing this is good for me!” Positive judgments about behavior can be reinforcing of and by themselves because they are capable of activating the release of the biologically reinforcing brain chemicals. When this occurs the positive judgment is said to trigger the state of reinforcement.
Psychological Reinforcement = Gratification
When the biologically reinforcing brain chemicals are automatically released in response to a behavior, the person feels pleasure and is more likely to judge the behavior as positive, which stimulates the release of more reinforcing brain chemicals. When this occurs the judgment a person makes is said to enhance the state of reinforcement. It is really important to have an appropriate medication management plan and this is another instance of the more you know the safer you are.
In APM™ Module Four: A Guide for Managing Pain Medication in Recovery you can learn to explore how you can use pain medication using a recovery oriented approach. First you will look at some misunderstood terms, then you will be asked to list the benefits and disadvantages of using pain medication. Next you’ll write your pain history story and then be shown how to develop your own effective pain medication management plan. The final step is to review a Recovery/Relapse Indicator Checklist and complete a final call to action.
For a brief overview of some of the information in this module please check out my article Managing Pain Medication in Recovery that you can download for free on our Ariticles page. To purchase APM™ Module Four please Click Here.
For an additional resource regarding medication management please go to our Publications page and check out my Addiction-Free Pain Management® Module Two: Examining Your Potential Medication Management Problems. To purchase this module please Click Here.
To learn about two skill trainings coming up in Sacramento California designed to teach treatment strategies for people living with chronic pain and coexisting disorders including disorders including addiction please Click Here.
To listen to a radio interview I did conducted by Mary Woods for her program One Hour at a Time please Click Here to go to this interview.
To read the latest issue of Chronic Pain Solutions Newsletter please Click here. If you want to sign up for the newsletter, please Click here and input your name and email address. You will then recieve an autoresponse email that you need to reply to in order to finalize enrollment.