Why it is Hard to Manage Chronic Illness with Addiction (and How Treatment Can Help)?

Chronic illness can take a person’s dignity and life away spiritually, mentally, and physically. Living with a constant, ever-presence illness defines a person’s existence, especially if they struggle with addiction and try to quit, but need a way to manage symptoms of their chronic illness. Whether it be a pain, cardiovascular disease, or something else, many people struggle with two or more chronic illnesses and need ongoing care. Find out why chronic illness and addiction are a difficult combination and how to find treatment and support.

Discuss Everything

When it comes to chronic illness, it does not help to leave anything on the table. A doctor or treating physician and team need to know everything going on. People who live with chronic illness may be questioned about their symptoms by medical providers. The journey to living free of addiction should begin by finding a doctor and team who believes in the symptoms. Ask questions, tell the story, and keep looking for people to trust who understands these issues. With the right medical provider, it helps to be honest about addiction history, even with struggles using drugs or alcohol. It pays to be honest as they may find a level of care that works to treat the whole thing rather than wait until it gets out of hand.

Find a Mentor or Friend

Even when things are looking good, prescription drugs are not enough to take care of all the problems. A person with an anxiety disorder may still panic or find pain flaring up when stress hits. Chronic illness takes no prisoners. It is tempting to take more medication to cope, which many do, and find that it takes over their lives. Finding trusted advisors and people to support recovery helps. Some tips to consider:

  • Make it someone that is trusted
  • Find a friend who lives nearby that can work around the distance
  • Recruit help to make it harder to hide the addiction
  • Try alternatives to support overall health with the help of the treatment team
Finding Additional Support

Fighting addiction on top of chronic illness is like a double whammy for people. It can help to get into treatment programs that support dual diagnosis for mental health, along with addiction and chronic illness because, quite often, they all go together. Every condition varies but improving health overall can be good for people. This might mean:

  • Changing diet to low sodium foods
  • Eating less sugar
  • Find anti-inflammatory foods
  • Get plenty of exercises
  • Embrace yoga or meditative practices

Last, but not least, embrace the idea that chronic illness may be here to stay for a while. It can take time to find the right combination of things that work (and stop doing what doesn’t). This might include change of medication, upping or lowering doses, tapering off medication, finding support for mental health issues, and looking into holistic practices as needed or desired. Stress management, anger management, and addiction support groups can all be helpful. Ultimately, it is up to the person and their loved ones to decide how they will want their lives to look and adjust accordingly for the time being.

The Last Resort provides a safe, supportive environment for men in a retreat-like setting. Nature is an important component of recovery and healing. We strive to provide a place of enrichment that cultivates the inner as well as the outer journey of recovery. However you find your way to the Last Resort, we endeavor to provide a haven where you can journey through recovery feeling like your life and story have meaning and a purpose. Call us to find out more: 512-750-6750.