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5 Tips for Maintaining Recovery After Surgery

woman recuperates in hospital

Most people experience some pain following surgery and some other medical procedures. They are often prescribed opioid painkillers to manage the pain, which can sometimes be intense. People recovering from addiction are understandably nervous about any kind of medical procedure that might require pain management. Opioid addiction sometimes begins with opioids prescribed following surgery or wisdom tooth extraction. And opioids are dangerous for anyone with a history of substance use issues. On the other hand, if you’re considering surgery or a potentially painful medical procedure, there’s probably a very good reason. You don’t want to risk your life to avoid a possible relapse, so what can you do? Here are some tips for maintaining your recovery after surgery.

Make sure your doctor knows about your addiction history.

The most important thing is to let your doctor know about your addiction history and your concerns about pain management. This may have an impact on your course of treatment, although your doctor may prefer to treat you in the standard way to ensure the best level of care and then deal with the pain management differently.

Ask for a shorter prescription.

The opioid epidemic in the US began when doctors prescribed opioid painkillers too liberally. For example, some oral surgeons routinely prescribed a month’s worth of Vicodin following wisdom tooth extraction–far more that was necessary. Although doctors are now typically much more cautious about prescribing opioids, some may still prescribe them too liberally. In most cases, an opioid prescription should last no more than a few days. Asking for a shorter prescription adds an extra layer of accountability to your painkiller use.

Get someone else to administer medication.

In addition to getting shorter prescriptions, get someone else, someone you trust, to hold on to your medication for you. It’s even better if they keep it hidden or in a safe. This way, someone else is aware of your level of consumption and there is a greater sense of accountability.

Distinguish between pain and discomfort.

Pain and discomfort aren’t the same thing. Opioids should only be used for real pain that’s intense and impairs your ability to function. Discomfort following an operation or procedure may linger for a while, but the pain should decrease quickly after the first few days. Discomfort and mild pain can typically be treated effectively using non-addictive NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen. Reduce your exposure by using opioid painkillers only when absolutely necessary.

Stick to your recovery plan.

Although using a potentially addictive substance is certainly a risk during recovery, it’s worth keeping in mind that your situation is not exactly the same as when you first became addicted. You have probably worked out some issues in therapy and built a sober network. It’s a good idea to lean on your sober network before and after surgery. Let them know what’s going on. Be sure to go to regular 12-step meetings and stay engaged. You may want to consider a sober living situation for extra accountability while you recover from surgery.

Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.