Link Discovered Between Substance Use and Chronic Pain

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Sovereign Health of Florida
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As chief medical officer of the leading national provider Sovereign Health Group and Sovereign Health of Florida, Dr. Ashish Bhatt, MD builds on his extensive experience in treating substance use disorders. Dr. Ash Bhatt stands out as the former medical director of The Recovery Place and the Lucida Treatment Center in Florida, where he managed the care of clients with co-presenting substance abuse and other mental illnesses.

According to a recent study released in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, most patients with a history of alcohol and drug abuse also suffer from chronic pain. The study followed 25,000 patients in primary care and identified 589 who screened positive when asked about specific substance use behaviors.

These patients then responded to questioning about chronic pain experiences. Researchers found that 51 percent of those patients who screened positive for use of illegal substances were using those substances to lessen physical pain, while 81 percent of those who had misused prescription drugs had done so for the same reason. Similarly, among those with high-risk alcohol behaviors, 79 percent turned to their drinking as a pain management technique.

Study author Daniel Alford, MD, director of the Safe and Competent Opioid Prescribing Education (SCOPE of Pain) program at Boston University School of Medicine, suggests that these statistics may help treating physicians to understand why patients engage in substance abuse. The findings may also be useful in designing long-term recovery planning, as it may help physicians to maximize the success of treatment by addressing potential root causes of addiction.