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When You're Recovering From an Addiction and Living With Chronic Pain

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When I first got clean and sober in 2012, I remember thinking, “Life is going to be great! No more feeling sick and tired.” I could not have been more wrong. This isn’t to say life hasn’t been amazing, because it really has. But there is something that is always lingering around called chronic pain.

Lately, I have been trying to figure out how to accept being in chronic pain while also being in recovery from a drug addiction. The medications I take have to be non-addicting. I am fearful of falling back into my old destructive habits because there is a lack of treatment options.

There is a lot of judgement in the recovery community about what is acceptable and what is not. I have been taking cannabidiol with small amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol to help with the pain and inflammation. Some would say this is a relapse, but they probably have not been living with chronic pain. They are clueless about how painful it can be to live with a chronic illness.

For the past year, everyday has been hard. I wake up in pain, take some oil, it wears off, I am in pain again. At school, sometimes the pain creeps in and it is hard to focus.

On top of the pain comes shame. I feel like I have to hide my marijuana use from my friends in recovery because I will be viewed as “not sober.” Some newly sober people have even said, “Wow, you are so lucky you get to use marijuana. I wish I could still use that.” Trust me, if I had the option between having a cure or to keep using marijuana, I would take the cure in a heartbeat!

Honesty is one of the main things that has kept me clean and sober. Being honest and open is how I have learned to stay on the right path. Being open about my treatment has gone a long way to help me not fall off the deep end. Anyone who is close to me knows what I am using and I check-in with them regularly.

I have also had to learn to say out loud to friends and family, “I am not feeling well today,” or, “Today has not been a good day.” For some reason this has been one of the hardest things, but it has helped so much to get things off my chest. It is easy to hide the pain because I don’t look physically sick. I try to smile a lot and pretend I am not in pain. There is a lot pressure to get sober and then become healthy.

If anyone has ever dealt with this issue before, leave a comment. I would love to hear about your experiences and anything else that has helped you deal with this problem. We are all here to support each other.

If you or a loved one is affected by addiction and need help, you can call SAMHSA‘s hotline at 1-800-662-4357.

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Originally published: September 6, 2017
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