Arthritis Pain, Depression and Drug Abuse
Arthritis is a disease that causes inflammation in joints throughout the body. It is progressive meaning it gets worse over time. Although there are several treatments for the pain associated with arthritis, there is currently no cure. There are over 100 different forms of arthritis, but several symptoms are common to all of them:
- Swelling and pain in joints
- Inability to walk
- Difficulty grasping or holding items
- Loss of strength
- General lack of energy or malaise
- Difficulty sleeping
Exercise, physical therapy and chiropractic care has been shown to provide relief for some people, but prescription painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are the most common treatment.
Arthritis and Depression
Knowing that there is no cure for arthritis and that the struggle with pain will be a lifelong process can cause anxiety and depression. These are actually normal and healthy responses to a chronic diagnosis. Some people can work through such emotional issues in a healthy way by being proactive in their approach to pain management and maintaining their quality of life, but some become overrun with feelings of hopelessness, anger and despair. This not only reduces their quality of life in the short term, it increases their susceptibility to substance abuse and addiction.
Addiction Risks for Arthritis Patients
Depression elevates a person’s risk for addiction. Drugs and alcohol directly impact the same part of the brain that manages the processing of anxiety, stress, pain, habit formation and impulsiveness. These substances provide temporary relief of underlying anxiety and depression, and the brain will crave that relief in powerful ways. Additionally most of the painkillers used to treat arthritis are opiates and carry a high risk for addiction. Even a person with no depression issues may develop a dependency on prescription painkillers. The body tends to develop a tolerance to painkillers, meaning the user will need larger or more frequent doses to maintain the desired effect. If the patient increases their use or mixes their prescription painkiller with other drugs or alcohol, they greatly increase the likelihood that they will become addicted.
Symptoms of Addiction
The following symptoms may indicate that a person has become psychologically addicted to drugs or alcohol as a result of their arthritis treatment:
- Irritability, defensiveness or denial when confronted about substance use concerns
- Dishonesty with friends, loved ones, doctors or pharmacists about drug use
- Anxiety or panic when their supply of drugs gets low
- Loss of interest in previously important activities or relationships
Arthritis patients should share all emotional and physical symptoms with their doctor openly and honestly.
Help for Depression and Addiction Associated with Arthritis
If you are concerned about the effects of arthritis or drug use on your or a loved one’s life, please call our toll-free helpline. Our counselors can answer your questions, offer free advice and connect you with the best treatment options for your specific needs. You should never feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help when it comes to addiction, pain or depression. Call today, and let us help you find your way out from under depression and addiction.