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Alcohol For Pain Relief: Helping Or Hurting?
I’ve been there. Chronic knee pain is something I’m still dealing with (hopefully my last surgery will be in August) and for many years my go to for both physical and emotional pain was wine or bourbon. We’re taught that alcohol works on pain. Any old-time movie shows booze as both antiseptic and anesthetic. We’re taught that it’s good for everything – mourning, celebrations, sporting events, networking. It’s ironic. It helps at the moment, but long term is another story.
Alcohol works in your brain by producing extra high levels of dopamine, which both feels great in the moment and leaves us wanting more. But is the hangover the next day worth it? Or the increased risk of cancer or liver problems?
Most people know that some people have problems with alcohol, but don’t know that it’s more addictive than cocaine. Anyone who drinks enough will become dependent. We don’t want to think of ourselves as an “alcoholic” – those are the people on street corners drinking out of a paper bag. It happens to more professionals than most of us are aware of. The all or nothing mentality is problematic, leading to denial and failure to address problems when they’re more manageable.
I have been through this and can promise that chronic pain is much easier to deal with without the crutch of alcohol. I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to quit “cold turkey” or rely on the finite resource of willpower. When you learn how alcohol can hijack your lower brain into truly believing you have to have alcohol to survive, you can break the cycle and naturally depend on it less and less. You’re able to address the reasons you wanted to numb and make positive changes in your life.
This allows pain meds to actually do their job – and not worry about drug interactions. What a relief to not have to lie to your doctor about your alcohol use!
It may sound too good to be true. Especially since coaching is rooted in compassion and does not allow blame and shame. Can you imagine enjoying life with much less emotional and physical pain?
Replace the mask of guilt and shame with one of love, forgiveness and compassion.