You Don't Have to Face Chronic Pain Alone

July 31, 2019. Article by: Government of BC

Since the overdose emergency was declared in April 2016, it’s been found that people who overdose in B.C. are twice as likely to be dealing with chronic pain than the general population.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts longer than 3-6 months, or beyond the normal point of expected recovery. It might follow an injury, remain after surgery, or have no clear cause at all. Chronic pain is related to three main areas of overall health – biological, psychological and social.

Some people with chronic pain also experience substance use challenges. While most people who take opioid medication prescribed for acute pain do so without any problems, some develop opioid use disorder.

Managing chronic pain can be a challenge. But you don’t have to face it alone. 

Life beyond chronic pain

Chronic pain treatment can include physical therapy, medication, counselling, and mindfulness practices. Patients play an important role in chronic pain treatment. With guidance and support from healthcare professionals, a multi-disciplinary approach - combined with effective self-management techniques - makes it possible to recover from, or manage, chronic pain symptoms.

If you or someone you know is experiencing chronic pain, it’s important to discuss treatment options with a doctor or a healthcare professional. You can also:

  • Call 8-1-1 to speak with a health services navigator, who can help you find treatment and connect you with healthcare professionals to assist with chronic pain.
  • Connect with Pain BC to learn more about community, peer-support and self-management programs for people living with chronic pain.
  • Talk about it. People often try and cope with chronic pain on their own. Talking about it with friends, family and other connections can reduce the isolation felt by some people who experience chronic pain.

Chronic pain should be managed with support from a doctor or healthcare professional. If you or someone you know uses unregulated drugs to manage chronic pain, there are ways to reduce the risk of overdose.

  • Try a small amount first, then go slowly.
  • Find harm reduction services, such as supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites, in your area. Look out for yourself and those around you by not using substances alone.
  • Carry naloxone and know how to identify and respond to an overdose.

Following these steps can help people stay safer in the overdose crisis, and access treatment when they feel ready.

Learn more about harm reduction and find services in your community.