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Living With Chronic Pain in Recovery

man military with chronic pain

Living with chronic pain in recovery can feel like a minefield, especially if the pain is relatively new and you've experienced it while sober. While many people become addicted to drugs after being exposed medically, others may need pain relief while sober. Taking opioids for more than a day or two is not safe for people in recovery. Yet longer-term pain may remain; it's not something that improves as you stay sober longer. People with chronic illnesses need solutions that help them stay sober and improve their quality of life.

Treating Chronic Pain Without Opioids

Chronic pain typically can come from various conditions, from nerve damage from long-term drug use to pain from injuries, accidents, and illnesses that didn't heal. Many people in recovery live with chronic diseases. Sometimes that means they live with chronic pain, too.

When left untreated, chronic illness can significantly impact the quality of life of an individual. In the past, opioids, such as morphine and oxycodone, were considered the go-to treatment for severe pain. Today, many doctors are better educated and choose a multi-pronged approach to minimize harm.

Here are some potential options:

  1. Non-Opioid Medications: Various non-opioid medications can treat chronic pain, including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and certain antidepressants and anticonvulsants. Many of these can be combined to create adequate pain relief options.
  2. Opioid Rotation or MAT: If a person with addiction is already on opioid medication for chronic pain, their doctor may consider switching them to a different opioid with a lower risk of abuse potential. Often, this means that they can use MAT options such as buprenorphine.
  3. Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can help individuals with addiction learn new coping mechanisms for managing chronic pain.
  4. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help individuals with chronic pain increase their physical activity, strengthen their muscles, and improve their flexibility, all of which can help reduce pain and improve overall function.
  5. Complementary and Alternative Therapies: Some people may benefit from complementary and alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care to manage their chronic pain. These treatments can help reduce pain and improve the overall quality of life.

Buprenorphine For Chronic Pain Management

Buprenorphine, while also used in Medication-Assisted Treatment, is a medication that can help with pain management in a few different ways. First, it is a partial opioid agonist, meaning it can produce some pain-relieving effects as other opioids but with a lower risk of addiction and fewer side effects.

Buprenorphine also has a ceiling effect, meaning it cannot produce any additional pain relief after a specific dose, making it safer to use than other opioids. Buprenorphine works as an antagonist at receptor sites in the brain, which means it can block other opioids from binding and therefore reduce the risk of overdose.

Buprenorphine has been shown to positively affect mood, making it helpful to people who live with chronic pain and struggle with depression. A qualified healthcare provider should only prescribe buprenorphine, and patients should follow their provider's treatment plan carefully. Not every health plan will offer it, and you may not qualify for it. Speak with your healthcare providers to learn more.

Low-Dose Naltrexone for Chronic Pain Management

In pain management, low-dose naltrexone (LDN) has been studied as a potential therapy for conditions such as fibromyalgia, neuropathic pain, and chronic fatigue syndrome. It is thought to work by modulating the immune system and reducing inflammation, which may contribute to chronic pain.

Naltrexone is no longer considered experimental. However, not all health insurance companies will cover it, and not all treatment centers offer it. Naltrexone used for chronic pain rather than opioid use disorder is considered off-label and may not covered by health insurance.

In addition to medication-based treatment, integrative approaches like physical therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and mindfulness-based interventions can help reduce chronic pain without relying on opioids.

Sober Living Can Help

People with chronic pain or no pain can become addicted to opioids. If you live with opioid use disorder, and need treatment for chronic pain, work closely with your doctor to try non-addictive treatment options.


Many people in recovery from addiction have a bit of ambivalence about the holidays. After all, it’s good to be sober any day of the week. But the holidays are a time where people with a history of addiction typically struggle. Many people used to medicate heavily around this time of year. It was a way to avoid any guilt or feelings of trauma they dealt with in the past. Now that you are sober, the feelings may still manifest themselves from time to time. However, you don’t have to use substances to deal with those feelings. So how can you survive the holidays in recovery? Here are some great ideas.

Limit Your Time At Family Holiday Gatherings

If you are spending time with family and you feel uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to limit your time and give yourself an “out.” For example, you may want to arrive late, so you mostly eat the main meal, or you may want to arrive on time and leave after dinner. It’s up to you. However, if you feel uncomfortable, don’t agree to something that may upset you.

Make it a priority to check in with others in recovery if you go home for the holidays. There are often a lot of triggers that people have when it comes to family, even when the family is pretty functional. Addiction, after all, is a family disease. You may be in recovery, but not everyone is on the same page as you.

If you have somebody in the family who gives you grief, caused you physical or emotional harm, or who otherwise triggers painful memories, you don’t have to stick around. Instead, make sure you have an Uber app or a friend's phone number who can scoop you up if you feel like getting high or drinking. Your recovery is always more important than who you might “upset” by leaving a gathering early. After all, your life depends on staying sober.

Have a Friends Holiday Gathering, Instead

Some people may not have the family they want, but they spend time with their chosen family. In recovery, this is so important to understand; you don’t have to share your life with people you don’t want to. If you come from an abusive past, or have family members that always scold you or judge you, you can find an alternative to your traditional gatherings.

Many people in recovery have events that are open to others. For example, you may choose to go to a sponsor’s home or a special party or gathering. Or you may simply choose to go to a recovery group that hosts meetings during the holidays. It’s your choice, but it’s recommended that people in recovery don’t spend recovery stewing in old feelings alone.

You deserve to have a decent holiday; reach out to others if you’re not sure what plans you have. They can probably help you develop a plan for something healthy and friendly.

Interested In Sober Living?

Are you interested in living with others new to recovery? A sober living home can help you begin to adapt to life as a newly sober person, offer you structure, and help you plan for the next chapter in your life. Give us a call at 760-216-2077 to learn more about our sober living options.

Everyone deals with sadness from time to time. It’s a part of life as much as joy. Sadness is a normal emotion that everyone has to cope with. For people new in recovery, sadness may feel foreign or threatening. Nobody wants to feel “bad”! But sadness is necessary because life isn’t perfect, and we all experience some sort of loss from time to time. So allowing yourself to feel sadness is just as important as letting yourself feel joyful.

What is Sadness?

Sadness can be a complex emotion; you may feel it in response to a memory. Or you could feel it in reaction to something that happened in the present. For example, watching television news filled with tragedies or a dramatic film can cause anyone to feel sad, at least for a few minutes.

For many people, sadness comes when they feel like something is lost. For example, saying goodbye to your old lifestyle may make you feel sad for a time. Likewise, losing a loved one can be very hard to cope with. But sadness passes, and we come to appreciate the memories, and we come to appreciate the good times in our lives alongside the bad.

Ways to Cope With Sadness in Recovery

In recovery, sadness may feel like a “negative” emotion, but the truth is it is normal and healthy to experience. It can be uncomfortable to feel sad, especially when mourning or grieving. However, what you choose to do while you’re feeling sad makes all the difference in your recovery. So, what are some healthy ways to cope with sadness?

Consider Sober Living

People who live in sober homes can live their lives with more clarity and dedication to their goals. Being around others with similar priorities is important! Learn more about how you can find a sober living home by reaching out to us.

When you're new to recovery, you're told to get a sponsor and check in with them. Usually, you're given simple suggestions by your sponsor, such as attending a meeting every day or learning more about the first step. Choosing a new sponsor is easy when you're brand new to recovery – after all, anyone who's been sober a year or so has a lot of sobriety experience to share.

However, as time goes on, for whatever reason, you may end up switching sponsors. This can happen for various reasons, but hopefully, you're doing it for a cause that will help you change and grow.

When to NOT Switch Sponsors

If you're new to recovery, you may be skeptical of your first sponsor. After all, who are they to tell you what to think about or do?

A sponsor is a person who has knowledge of the 12 steps and staying sober in general. Typically, they will have a year or more of consistent sobriety. They will have also gone through some struggles and stayed sober. They usually have worked at least four or five of the 12 steps. (It's best if they've done all 12 – they'll have a lot of experience!)

For a newly sober person, your sponsor's sober experiences are a testament to the importance of the 12 steps. Your sponsor knows how to stay sober, but you don't quite know how to do it yourself. Listening to them will help you learn the basics.

Switching sponsors because you don't like their suggestions won't help you stay sober. In sobriety, you'll have to do some things that you don't like. Most people will give you step work and other tasks that you might find unpleasant and help you grow. So stick it out. You're worth it! Don't sabotage yourself because you're afraid of the challenges they give you. You're resilient.

Switching Sponsors

There are many legitimate reasons you may want to switch sponsors.

You may feel like he or she is just a wrong fit, or maybe they are moving away from the area and won't be able to see you regularly. Sometimes you'll find that you don't feel that your sponsor has enough time for you.

You may even want to switch sponsors because you've found somebody you relate to. If you are gay, you'll feel more comfortable with another person who is LGBTQ. Or, you might simply relate to another person's story and feel like you want to learn to live like them! There are no requirements for choosing a sponsor, only suggestions! Sticking with your gender and somebody who has at least a year sober will help you avoid drama and focus on your recovery.

You don't have to tell your sponsor that you're looking for a new one right away. You may be worried that you'll hurt their feelings. Even if that were to happen, in recovery, you have to put your own needs first.

You can also always ask somebody to be your "temporary sponsor" until you find a permanent one. This way, you'll have a new friend that you can also check in with until you decide.

Getting Help for Addiction

In sober housing, you can be among your peers and learn to live life on its own terms. You’ll also develop meaningful friendships, learn to take responsibility, and learn to have fun in sobriety. Give us a call to learn if our programs are right for you. Reach out at 760-216-2077.

Patience and tolerance are two spiritual principles that are encouraged throughout recovery. Patience is a trait that is very useful not only in recovery but for life in general.

Receiving Patience and Tolerance

When you first get sober, you will be a person who receives the benefits of patience and tolerance. You may not know how to act or need guidance at meetings.

Maybe you speak out of turn or on a topic that you have no experience with. It happens to new people a lot! You don’t know a lot about staying sober when you’ve got 30 days clean. So others might gently shush you and tell you to keep coming back! This is an exercise of patience and tolerance.

 Instead of lecturing you, people with more time sober will help guide you. This can be painful for you, and you may slip up or make a poor decision. Yet the 12-step room will still love you and welcome you back.

Patience and tolerance go hand-in-hand; you really can’t have one without the other. With these principles, you can act with love and kindness.

Becoming Patient

For many people, especially in the era of COVID-19, life has slowed down a lot. Things that once took an hour may take a lot more time due to fewer resources. You may have to wait in a long, socially-distanced line to get your medications or even get into the market to buy groceries.

Getting sober and doing detox also require a patient mindset. You’ll also have to tolerate the detox period – and other people in there with you – before you can go to a treatment center to get your help. You have to accept every delay and appointment. You stay patient because you hope things will get better, and you’ll get sober.

You may not even realize that you’re patient when you’re doing these things.

Being More Tolerant of Others

Once you get sober, you’ll become more tolerant of others as well as yourself.

In treatment, you may have other people in a group that get on your nerves or share an experience that you can’t relate to. Being patient and tolerance means you listen anyway. If it’s the person who is speaking that makes you feel less tolerant, try closing your eyes and listening as if you don’t know them at all. Pay attention to the message instead of the messenger.

When you are exercising patience and tolerance, you can become more open-minded. You’ll also start to give yourself a break and be less judging of your own mistakes. All of this leads to more peace and serenity. Recovery is a beautiful thing!

Sober Living Solutions

Living with others in recovery can help you continue your journey while in a stable, spiritual, recovery-focused environment. You can live close to the beach while reclaiming your life! Get in touch at 760-216-2077 to learn more about how we can help.

Recovering from addiction is a process that takes some time to adjust to. For many people, it means giving up friendships with people they used to drink or use drugs with and finding a new community that is supportive and caring. This community-building takes time, like many things in life. You may find that loneliness creeps up from time to time to rear its ugly head while you’re new to recovery. How can you cope with this feeling, and is it normal?

Yes, Loneliness Can Be Normal

Especially today, when we’re all facing the COVID-19 pandemic, loneliness is a powerful yet common/normal emotion. Leaving behind your old life will be hard at first, but you’ll soon have more friends. As a person in recovery, however, you have more options than you used to. Addiction treatment will help you build new friends who also can function as a supportive community.

A supportive community is a significant part of being sober. Once you’ve connected with others in recovery, you’re not alone anymore. You also have the benefit of other people caring about you and offering experience, strength, and hope when you need help and advice.

In recovery, you’ll need to surround yourself with people who understand where you’re coming from. You may feel lonely, even when other people surround you. Again, this is normal, but coping with it can be difficult.

Coping with Loneliness

Coping with loneliness means putting yourself out there and connecting with others. In early recovery, this can be hard, but you can do it. Here are some ways to start to change lonely feelings:

Living With Others in Sobriety

Recovery is precious and a gift you must continue to work on keeping. Living with others in sobriety can help you keep the focus on your needs, living life sober, and working toward your individual goals. At Sober Living San Diego, you’ll find a community of others who can offer not only a home but lasting relationships in recovery. Call us at 760-216-2077 to learn more about what we offer.

Many people in recovery make a lot of changes in what seems a short time. Sometimes, you may feel more emotional or stressed. This can affect the people around you who love you. As time goes on, you learn new coping skills. While this all happens, your family and other loved ones may

Helping people who love you adapt to your recovery isn’t a requirement, but they do need their own recovery plan as you begin to grow and change. Your family may walk on eggshells around you because they’re not sure what to expect. Or they may make assumptions about your behavior because they’re not used to trusting you. After a while, this can cause conflict or create anger or resentment.

Family Therapy

One of the first ways to help loved ones learn more about addiction and recovery is by having them participate in your therapy. Most treatment centers offer family therapy. Sometimes it’s more helpful for certain family members, such as your parents, to seek therapy for themselves. Addiction takes whole families prisoners.

If you have kids, therapy one-on-one can help them work through difficult emotions. Ask your own recovery teams for referrals if there are children involved.

You’ve been through a lot, but your family has too. If you’re not sure of a good place to go for therapy, ask your treatment center or call your local mental health department.

Groups for Family Members

Al-Anon and other 12-step centered groups can help families cope with the effects of your addiction. For many family members, there are a lot of wounds from your drug and alcohol use. You can’t fix them, but you can help them find a group.

If family members are hesitant to go in-person to a group, there are many addiction-related message boards online that they can check out, too.

Books and Self-Care

Many loved ones feel stressed as they watch your recovery from a safe distance. They may be worried about getting their hopes up. Or they simply may worry about you.

It’s hard for family members to let go. But many of them may feel empowered by books on addiction and recovery.

Self-care is also something that can help family members learn to let of stress and take care of themselves. Go with them for a long walk or a lazy day at the beach. Suggest ways to have fun together.

Sober Living Homes Can Help You Transition

You may want to take it slow when you’re exiting treatment. After all, your focus on recovery is paramount. Learning to work your recovery program is important. Sober living is a good option for people who need to have a transition period before returning home to their family situation or their own living quarters. You’ll have a safe, comfortable space that you share with people who also are focused on recovery.

Learn more about your sober living options by calling us at 760-216-2077.

It’s that time of year again. The holiday season in America can bring out some of the best and worst emotions in everyone. Recovering people and their families are often a complicated dynamic. There are people in many families that are in recovery. Families can and DO recover. But this may not be the case in your situation. How you choose to spend your holiday season, and who you spend it with, is 100% your decision.

Holidays Are Hard for Addicted People (& Families)

Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, love, and acceptance. That’s what the countless tv commercials and shows seem to advertise. But don’t be fooled or feel bad if your personal situation looks nothing like what you see portrayed in the media. There’s no perfect family out there, and many people have circumstances that make the holiday season difficult to experience or enjoy.

Family is “supposed” to look a certain way if you pay attention to marketing messages. Those messages are just meant to sell things and rarely even reflect what everyday people look like and live. Your family is never going to be perfect, and it’s your choice how you react to that or choose to conduct your relationships.

You don’t have to spend time with people who have caused (or WILL cause) pain. There may be family members uncomfortable with you, too, if there is baggage from your addiction. Accept where you are at and focus on what you CAN do to enjoy yourself this holiday without the use of alcohol or drugs.

Identifying Your Needs

If your situation this holiday season is less than ideal, you have the power to change the way you celebrate it. This may mean making changes in who and where you celebrate this season.

If you want to avoid a hard-drinking family, you can always plan to have a separate dinner that’s more intimate with your parents and others who understand your struggles. If your family itself is toxic, find out about 12-step meetings and other events where sober people are gathering.

If you choose to spend your time with your family but worry about triggers or stressors, ask your sponsor to help you create an “escape” plan. Make sure that part of this plan includes a ride home or to a meeting. Even better, make your escape plans ahead of time and commit to helping out at the 12-step meeting or event when you get there.

Be gentle with yourself if you experience triggers, anxiety, or depression when you’re celebrating. Please remember that you’re not alone. Reach out to other people in your network if you need help. Text people, go to meetings, and try to relax when you can.

Staying sober is the most important goal in recovery. People who stay sober do it a day at a time. That means just for today, no matter what, you're not picking up a drink or a drug.

Remember that getting drunk or high just causes you more problems and fixes nothing. Give yourself a chance and commit to stay sober no matter what this holiday season. Use the tools that have kept you sober, and reach out to others in recovery if you’re struggling.

Things to Do This Holiday Instead of Using Substances

Try Sober Living San Diego

Sober housing is an excellent way for people new to sobriety to learn to live life on life’s terms. Learn more about your options available in the San Diego area. In sober housing, you will meet people who are sober, working their 12-step programs, and rebuilding their lives in recovery. To learn more about what our programs offer, call us at 760-216-2077.

Everyone in recovery has heard about the importance of willingness. When you first get clean and sober, you have to trust others and be willing to do whatever it takes. At first, it’s usually difficult to follow the suggestions of others, but as you stayed sober, you probably noticed that your recovery program was stronger.

Being willing to go to 12-step meetings, trust other people in recovery, and take suggestions are the bread and butter of your recovery program. Staying sober only happens one day at a time. Once the fog clears, however, living a life of willingness may become more difficult.

Becoming More Willing

There are probably things you’re told you should do, but you don’t want to do them. In life, everyone pretty much has to go to the DMV. We all have bills to pay and jobs that we do. There are things that we perceive as downright unpleasant, such as having surgery or facing a fear. Being willing doesn’t always mean “doing things joyfully.” It means that you’re ready to do what you have to do.

The first thing you do in recovery is to to stop using and start listening to others. Just staying sober shows that you’re capable of working toward willingness. When a person first begins their recovery journey, they’re told to stay away from old friends and old situations. It can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. When you think you can’t become willing to do something, try to remember all of the other changes you’ve made to get to where you are today.

You may not be willing today, but keep acting as if you are. Take the steps you need to take. The feeling of willingness might follow, or you may have to trudge every step of the way. Either way, you'll get stronger and willingness will come more naturally to you.

If you have a higher power, many people find that praying for willingness makes them feel more willing on a day to day business.

One Day at a Time

Growth only happens one day at a time. No one is perfect. Few people enter into a recovery program eager to delve into their emotions, the things they’ve done wrong, and the problems that they face. But thousands of people stick around anyway, knowing that they want to change and need help doing it.

If you’re going through something and struggling with willingness, remember to take it a day at a time. Do what you need to do. The feelings will follow, and you’ll have a stronger recovery program by sticking it out.

Interested in Sober Living or Aftercare?

Many people decide that after treatment, they want to continue to live with additional supports in place. Whether you’re interested in living in a structured, supportive setting or attending aftercare as you adjust to everyday life, we’re here to help. Call us at 760-216-2077 for more information on our programs.

Everyone's first thought. Must be overwhelming. Impossible. Luck. Miracle. Well, there seems to be a pattern with those that 'got it'.

Lots of meetings. Sponsorship. Stepwork. Personal growth. Education. We've seen it all. From big book thumpers to higher education, there seems to be an underlying factor: being connected and being thirsty for growing as an individual.

Paradoxically the inner growth is balanced by the connections for it is easy to get lost wanting to be 'spiritual'. The sense of bond in early recovery is spiritual in itself given the distance from others during addiction. The vulnerability of sharing and being open with others in sobriety psychologically develops trust and belonging, a highly elating feeling and chemically supportive to the healing.

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