Chronic pain can quickly become all consuming, and sometimes even the strongest person needs to find relief from it somehow. When the medicine you’re prescribed fails to alleviate the worst of the pain, it is natural to look for something else that will take the edge off the constant discomfort. It’s difficult to think clearly when your body hurts, but it’s important to strategize healthy ways to manage your pain and to avoid letting it lead you towards unhealthy coping mechanisms.
Unhealthy Ways to Manage Pain
Many people dealing with chronic pain turn to unhealthy methods of coping, such as substance abuse of things like alcohol, opioids or street drugs. This can be a tempting option, but it’s a short-term solution for a long-term problem that will only lead to an exacerbated situation. In an article by Duquesne University that references the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 10.2 percent of the US population were current illicit drug users. Untreated pain is one reason that substance abuse is a widespread public health issue.
Even as a short-term solution, it’s difficult to distinguish when a drink to take the edge off becomes a substance you depend on to get through most days. There are 5 subtypes of alcoholics; about 20 percent of alcoholics fall under the ‘functional alcoholic’ subtype, which means on average, they drink 181 days out of the year and have at least 5 drinks on more than half of those days. Having a job and only drinking every other day doesn’t mean you don’t have a problem.
Before you find yourself in a position where alcohol or a different substance begins to cause serious problems in your life, explore other ways to take your mind off the pain. Studies show that the use of medical marijuana can relieve pain and other symptoms of chronic illness. A large benefit to using medical marijuana is the lack of side effects that come with it in comparison to prescription pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Healthy Ways to Manage Pain
Another coping method is to join a support group for chronic pain. When dealing with chronic pain, it’s common for your mental health to take a hit and to feel very alone and frustrated. Even if you have support from friends and family, it can be difficult to vent to people who don’t understand how much chronic pain hurts. Talking to people who understand what you’re dealing with can benefit your mental health, and that can make a huge difference in your ability to manage your pain.
It can also be helpful to pick up a new hobby. Getting stuck in the same routines and surroundings can leave little else to think about besides the pain. Traveling can be difficult when you’re in chronic pain and in a wheelchair, but it’s far from impossible.
If flying is too inconvenient or you’re simply not a fan, you could invest in an RV that comes with a wheelchair lifting capacity of 800 pounds and dual handrails. This would provide you with the comfort of a home when you hit the road for a few days. You can travel to mountains and beaches where there will be trees and oceans to think about; while you’re there, grab a sketchbook and draw the horizon or a notebook where you can describe your surroundings and jot down your thoughts.
Chronic pain makes life difficult, even more so when your mobility is already limited. It may be tempting to look for relief in the wrong places, but it’s important to remember that these routes can have very serious and complicated consequences and that the relief from them is short lived. Look for healthy ways to take your mind off the pain, such as by traveling, immersing yourself in a hobby or joining a support group. Chronic pain takes a harsh toll on your physical health but is equally impactful to your mental health. Take care of yourself as a whole and look for relief in the right places.