Before I type another word, let me first say that I claim amateur status. I am not a doctor or healer of any kind. But I have chronic pain and have had it all of the 31 years I’ve been clean and sober. Have had more medical procedures than I’d like to count. Though physical pain thresholds are different for different people, pain is painful! Some have a high tolerance for pain, some much lower. Pain is very hard to quantify. After saying all that, it is still possible that my experience may have some value somewhere for someone dealing with physical pain in recovery.
I have been in recovery for a few years now and have been dealing with knee pain the whole time and it is only getting worse. But I have been putting it off because of having some fear about the procedure and taking pain medication afterwards.
I actually know several people in recovery, very close to me, who were in the exact situation you are in. I can tell you that both eventually gave in, had the procedure and dealt with the pain meds the “right way” and after dealing with the pain from the procedure on the knee, they are both pain free and most importantly pain medication free as well.
So pain has an important role in our well being. When the knee hurts more than your fear of the procedure and physical recover process, which often includes pain meds, that is when most people are ready to move forward and get it repaired.
What do you mean by dealing with the medication the right way?
The one thing a recovering person has to protect their recovery (along with a higher power) is honesty. Self honesty, yes. But bringing another person into the mix to help stay accountable is very important, especially when it comes to pain medications.
When I have gone through the physical recovery process, I had to have rigorous honesty with myself and another, along with discipline. That was something I was slowly developing. One problem I had when having to take pain meds was; I would take a pill and walk away. By the time I’m in the next room I’m asking myself “Did I take the pain pill when I was back there?” It was amazing, actually, how I’d immediately forget. Amazing in a dangerous kind of way. My solution was to turn the container upside down immediately. That way when I walk back in after taking the morning pain pill, I see that I have indeed taken it already.
The other thing that always helped me, was to take out that days amount of pills into another container, to help with the self honesty about not taking more than prescribed. And as my pain went down I would safely titrate down, working with the doctor and support of a sponsor too.
What alternatives do I have other than pain medication over the long haul?
Again, I am not a doctor, so everything I have said is my experience with chronic pain and from some of the guys that call me sponsor and their long road of pain management.
Personal note for anyone reading this and wondering, if I’m on pain medication now, and the answer is no. I have serious chronic pain that has progressed some over the years. But I currently use a Physical Therapist, for building around the damage and help healing while avoiding re-injuring myself or simply making things worse. Also I have been seeing an acupuncturist/herbalist every other week for the last 30 years. And my doctor for continuing to encourage, monitor, and care for my health. And last but not least, a personal relationship with a higher power to help guide me through it all has been crucial to my still being here at all, with all of you.