How Personal Injuries Can Lead to Addiction and Trigger Relapses

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 31 million Americans every year suffer personal injuries requiring medical treatment. Treatment typically includes prescription medications such as opioids. Unfortunately, these drugs can cause a person to become dependant and develop an addiction. But for those in recovery, the pain from personal injuries can result in addiction relapse.

The opioid epidemic caused by people trying to manage pain is causing devastating consequences. As a result of opioids, 128 people a day had a fatal overdose in 2018. Opioids include morphine, codeine, Vicodin, OxyContin, and Fentanyl.

What are Opioids for Personal Injuries?

Prescribed to treat severe or chronic pain from personal injuries, opioids are synthetic painkillers. After personal injuries, people are often prescribed oxycodone or Vicodin. However, opioids are highly addictive, have a high fatal overdose rate, and lead to addiction relapse. 

As more people are prescribed opioids for personal injuries, more people understand the risks of addiction. Stopping their pain medication isn’t a problem for some people. However, others may become dependant, while those in recovery may experience addiction relapse. 

With the cost of prescription painkillers, lack of health insurance, and strict laws on painkillers, people often turn to other drugs, specifically heroin. Heroin can be easily accessible at a lower cost than prescribed drugs. But, heroin may be laced with fentanyl which increases the risk of fatal overdose. 

How the Epidemic Began

In the late 1990s, pharmaceutical companies started pushing synthetic and semi-synthetic opioids to doctors. The companies assured everyone the drugs were less addictive or non-addictive in comparison to morphine. In addition, they stated opioids had no dangerous side effects.

As a result, doctors began pushing opioids on all their patients with pain. However, it was quickly realized people were becoming addicted to the drug. The result of this big push of opioids is still being dealt with now. 

Three Opioid Overdose Death Waves

According to the CDC, in 2018, deaths from opioid overdose totaled 67,367. That was nearly 70 percent of overdose deaths from all drugs. Between 1999 and 2018, about 450,000 died from prescription and illicit opioids. 

Three waves distinctly show the rise in opioid deaths. These waves are:

  • The first wave began in the 90s. And, in the late 90s, deaths involving prescription opioids began increasing. 
  • In 2010 we saw the next rapid increase in deaths. In this case, heroin, an illicit opioid, was to blame. 
  • The third wave in 2013 began with a significant increase in opioid deaths. Specifically, illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is the cause of this rise. 

How Do Personal Injuries Lead to Addiction and Addiction Relapse

Although opioids have a high risk of dependence and addiction, doctors still prescribe them regularly after personal injuries. Opioids offer significant benefits in treating pain from personal injuries. For instance, people who need to return to work quickly can manage the pain, which allows them to work. 

However, an addiction to opioids can develop quickly. The body becomes dependent on the drug to function. And without opioids, the pain can be even more unbearable. For this reason, people continue using opioids even after the doctor says to stop.

Can Someone in Recovery Take Pain Medicine for Personal Injuries?

Many people believe that there is a strict no medication for life policy once in recovery to prevent addiction relapse. But, that means even after painful personal injuries, you can not have pain medications. Does that make sense? 

It isn’t reasonable to expect individuals to recover from pain after personal injuries and not receive pain medication. But, there are steps a person can take to prevent addiction relapse and still get pain relief after personal injuries. 

It is also crucial to understand if you were administered pain medication by a paramedic or in the emergency room, your recovery is still intact. You did not knowingly or deliberately take medicine. Nor did you take it with the intent to get high. 

personal injuries

Develop a Plan In Case of Personal Injuries to Prevent Addiction Relapse

Individuals in recovery can be hurt on the job, injured in car accidents, and encounter other personal injuries. Sometimes personal injuries require medications to manage pain. For those in recovery, this can be worrisome as they fear addiction relapse. However, by observing the following steps, you can prevent addiction relapse. 

  • Tell your doctor about being in recovery. Your doctor will not judge you. And with this information, they can further provide the best possible care. 
  • Ask your doctor about reasonable pain levels during healing. This information can help you decide if you need more medication or if there are further complications. 
  • Take only what the doctor prescribes. Do not add over-the-counter medications or herbal medications without asking your doctor. They can intensify the effects of the pain medication. 
  • Put a friend or loved one in charge of the medication. Putting someone else in charge of dispensing your pain medication can prevent the temptation of taking more than prescribed. The medicine should also be inaccessible between doses. 
  • Stop taking the pain medication as soon as possible. Once the pain from personal injuries is manageable, it’s crucial to switch to a non-opioid medication. However, always check with your doctor before stopping any medication. Opioids, for example, may require a taper-down program. 

Are There Alternatives to Opioids for Personal Injuries?

Although most people think opioids are the only way to control pain after personal injuries, there are alternatives to pain medications. For example, non-opioid medications, physical therapy, holistic therapies, and counseling can also manage pain. People in recovery often feel safer choosing an alternative treatment to prevent addiction relapse. 

Non-Opioid Drugs to Prevent Addiction Relapse

Talking to your doctor about your recovery is crucial because there are non-opioid drugs to manage pain from personal injuries. These drugs can be beneficial for those who worry about addiction and addiction relapse. 

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and ketorolac (Toradol)
  • Acetaminophen
  • Glucocorticoid steroids
  • Beta-blockers including labetalol and esmolol
  • Antidepressants such as amitriptyline, duloxetine, and nortriptyline
  • Anticonvulsants such as gabapentin and pregabalin.

Although some of these drugs are better than others and have their own risks, they can be useful for pain from personal injuries. 

Opioids for Personal Injuries

Holistic Therapies for Relief from Personal injuries

When managing pain from personal injuries, many in recovery turn to holistic therapies. The connection and understanding of the mind, body, and spirit are very beneficial in pain management without risking addiction relapse.


Meditation has profound effects on pain levels from personal injuries. To begin with, meditation does not take away the pain. But, it does transform your relationship with pain which brings some relief. 


Yoga incorporates breath control, physical poses, relaxation, and meditation. The goal of yoga is to develop harmony within the body. The endless benefits of yoga include alleviating pain and distress. 

Reiki and Therapeutic Touch

Reiki and other forms of therapeutic touch activate self-healing processes. Reiki, for example, is centered around healing through touch and energy-based techniques. Decreasing anxiety and pain are benefits of significant benefits of Reiki.


Acupuncture is an ancient practice that relieves pain and reduces stress. Through nerve stimulation, the brain and spinal cord receive signals to release endorphins while sending fewer pain signals. As a result, acupuncture reduces pain from personal injuries without risking addiction relapse. 

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care targets the pain of personal injuries without the risk of addiction relapse. It is also a proven chronic pain management method. Besides relieving pain from personal injuries, chiropractic care increases blood flow and overall wellbeing. 

Aqua Therapy

Some personal injuries can lead to multiple health and pain issues. Aqua therapy is specifically helpful for those with neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders. By addressing balance, posture, and strength issues, aqua therapy reduces pain and inflammation without the risk of addiction relapse. 

Nutritional Therapy

A well-balanced eating habit is beneficial in combating pain and healing the body after personal injuries. Furthermore, a poor diet can weaken the body due to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals. By boosting specific nutrients in the body, it decreases inflammation and pain. 

Managing Chronic Pain from Personal Injuries While in Addiction Treatment

People who develop an opioid addiction while treating chronic pain can be afraid to stop using the drug. But, it’s important to know there are options to prevent severe pain and discomfort. For example, opioid antagonist medication such as methadone and buprenorphine control withdrawal symptoms, cravings and manage pain on your recovery journey.

Seeking Help When Personal Injuries Lead to Addiction or Addiction Relapse

Personal injuries alone can take a mental toll, but adding an addiction to pain medication can leave a person feeling helpless. Furthermore, people in recovery often experience addiction relapse after taking opioids for personal injuries. Recovering from opioid use disorder can be very challenging, but you are not alone at Sana Lake BWC. Contact us today to find out more about our comprehensive addiction treatment programs.