How To Deal With Injury and Pain in Recovery
I’ve had my fair share of injuries related to running or exercise in general. I’ve written several posts about how I’ve dealt with being sidelined (see the bottom of this post), but recently I received a question on Instagram that made me realize that I haven’t shared this side of my experience – how to deal with injury and pain in recovery.
Luckily, the injuries I’ve had haven’t required surgery or serious pain medication, but a couple of times with my back injury I had to take muscle relaxers because I could barely breathe in the acute stage of the injury. The muscles around the injury would spontaneously constrict and I was unable to expand my lungs due to the spasm. It would stop me in my tracks and I’d have to stand still and hold my breath until it passed.
In case you were unaware, the DEA classifies certain drugs into different schedules based on their potential for abuse, safety, addictive potential, and whether or not they have any legitimate medical application. Although the drug I was prescribed, Flexeril, isn’t scheduled, there is still the potential for abuse and another muscle relaxer, Soma, was scheduled in 2012 (yay pharmacy school!).
That being said, any time there is the potential for abuse, I am very wary about taking that medication. I first became addicted to pills before switching to heroin, so the less medication I can take, the better. When I first started taking antidepressants, for example, the way that the pills sounded in the bottle were triggering to me until time helped me move on from those memories.
I’ve put together everything that I do when I ABSOLUTELY need to take medication that could be an issue for me. Even if you don’t have a problem with addiction, this could be good information for you to know if you happen to know someone who does.
Ask yourself if you can get by without medication
For most of my injuries, the answer to this question was a yes. I could take some Advil or just go easy until I had healed. Unfortunately, living as a recovering addict means sometimes dealing with more pain in recovery than the average person. For me, staying clean is more important than starting down a potentially dangerous path, especially if it’s not necessary.
Figure out if you’re actually impaired from doing daily activities due to your injury or pain. If the answer is yes, then make sure to pay attention to the following suggestions.
Inform your doctor that you’re in recovery
Every doctor I’ve been to since I stopped using drugs knows that I’m in recovery. Even if I didn’t think it was relevant, like the dermatologist, I would indicate on my intake forms that I had a past with drug and alcohol abuse and verbally mention it when going over my paperwork.
Informing your doctor that you’re in recovery makes it less likely that they will prescribe potentially addictive medications (not always) and less likely that you will be able to manipulate them into doing so.
Ask for the lowest dose possible
The first time I needed to take a muscle relaxer, I got the normal 10 mg dose. I took one and ended up taking a nap about 30 min later. It made me drowsy and was something I couldn’t really take during the day. The second time my back flared up, I made sure to ask for a 5 mg dose. I was able to stay awake with the lower dose and although I could still feel my back pain, it stopped seizing up on me which was the point all along.
Tell people you are taking the medication
Addicts are secretive and manipulative people. If I had filled my prescription without telling anyone, it would have immediately felt like I was keeping a secret — something that I loved to do while using.
As with any secret, the more people you tell, the less power it has over you. Informing others helps them keep you accountable and you less able to get grand ideas about taking extra.
Have someone administer it to you (if possible)
If you live with someone, have them give you the medicine rather than taking it yourself. Have them administer it according to the directions and then keep it in a safe place. That could mean you know where it is or if you’re concerned about being tempted, not knowing where it is.
If you don’t have anyone to give it to you, definitely make sure that you let people know that you are taking it.
Take only as prescribed
The directions on my medication were to take one three times a day. That means three times, not four, not every time you feel the pain start to come back. Taking more than prescribed is a slippery slope that can lead to abuse if you’re not careful.
Throw away what you don’t use
Once my back stopped seizing, I had Neil throw away the remainder of my prescription. This requires being honest with yourself about whether you need to take the full amount prescribed to you. I knew that if I continued to take it, it would only be because it changed the way I felt and that’s not a productive reason for me to take any medication (besides antidepressants, am I right? 🙂 ).
It goes back to the first question of asking yourself if you actually need medication to deal with your pain in recovery. If the honest answer is no, dispose of what is remaining to avoid any temptation.
This post addresses the physical side of injury. If you’re interested in reading more about how injury affects my mental health and how I cope with it, here are some helpful posts:
- What I Learned From Not Working Out For A Month
- How To Cope With An Injury
- Injury Update and the Five Stages of Grief
As always, thanks for reading and please share if you think it will be helpful to someone else! What are some of your tips on dealing with pain in recovery?