The most serious obstacles for people with a health condition who need addiction treatment are related to inpatient care.
You’ll need to find a facility that is equipped to fully support you if you will be staying at the treatment center around the clock. Always discuss these concerns with the care provider before signing up.
Drug Rehab and Serious Health Conditions
Often, drug addiction is discussed in isolation, as a single condition to be treated. While it can be helpful to isolate a topic for discussion, this isn’t how many people experience addiction.
You may have a serious health condition while also abusing drugs. Your health problem may even be a big part of why you were pushed toward substance abuse and addiction. HIV/AIDS, cancer, chronic pain, and schizophrenia are among many health conditions that can contribute to substance abuse.
Unfortunately, serious health conditions like these can also complicate addiction treatment. Depending on the amount of care you require daily, a rehab facility may not be equipped for every need you have.
What Needs Should Be Considered?
Regardless of your given situation, there are a few general things to keep in mind when seeking substance abuse treatment while suffering from any kind of health condition:
- Will any medications you’re given to manage detox or addiction interact poorly with other necessary medications you’re taking? Treatment providers must be aware of all medications you may be taking.
- Do you require any specialized care or machinery in the timeframe you will be staying at the treatment facility? If so, you’ll need to ensure that the facility is equipped to handle your medical needs.
- Do the staff at the facility understand your condition enough to help with its unique obstacles? It’s best to choose a facility that has experience dealing with your particular health condition.
- Are you addicted to a drug that is also being used to treat your condition? Are there alternatives? This is especially relevant to chronic pain patients, including cancer patients and those with other conditions that often cause serious pain. These patients can get addicted to their pain medication. Treatment providers will need to manage chronic pain, usually without the use of opioid drugs that may have fueled the addiction.
Always discuss these sorts of questions with a professional from the treatment facility you are interested in.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) runs a helpline for people who are addicted to drugs, which can be reached at 1-800-662-4357. This and similar resources may lead you to facilities that are suited to your needs. Depending on your particular health condition, there may be a limited number of treatment facilities that are appropriate for your situation.
Addiction and Pain
As briefly discussed, addiction can often stem from drugs prescribed due to a genuine need. Those suffering from chronic pain understand that, even if they have a real problem with opioid abuse or any other painkiller, they can’t simply stop all pain management to combat that addiction.
A doctor helping a patient with both chronic pain and drug abuse needs to take that patient’s needs and risks into account. Ideally, an addiction specialist will be consulted, although sometimes such specialists are not available in a hospital setting.
There are levels of pain where it would be unreasonable to expect a patient to completely abstain from powerful painkillers, even if it is the same painkiller that is fueling an addiction. While a doctor can and should be cautious with a patient showing such pain by checking for signs of fake symptoms, many genuine pain patients struggle with addiction.
In the cases of actual pain patients, a doctor needs to be aware of alternatives to whatever the patient is doing to “self-prescribe” for their pain. For some patients, it may even be that the best option is to keep them on the drug they were abusing but help get them to a place where they use it as prescribed.
This process is not simple. It will take a great deal of work and planning on the part of both the doctor and the patient.
If you are suffering from addiction and chronic pain, be sure to find a facility that understands that complex situation. Fighting an addiction to a drug you are still taking for medical reasons is especially difficult, which is why this practice is usually avoided unless necessary.
Getting Specialized Care
Some health conditions might require fairly specialized treatment. Cancer is one such example. Few substance abuse treatment centers will come equipped with everything needed to treat a cancer patient.
If a patient is going to require partial hospitalization or inpatient treatment to deal with their addiction, they need to make sure their needs can be met.
This also holds for the reverse. If you must stay at a hospital or similar facility for your other health condition, that facility still needs to be able to treat your addiction.
Regarding mental health; the substance abuse treatment center you go to must be staffed with people who understand the best way to help you.
For example, if you have schizophrenia, you want the facility to have understanding, experienced staff members who can treat you appropriately.
Most substance abuse treatment centers have health care professionals who are trained in therapy and mental health. It is likely they will be able to work with your condition even if it is not their specialty.
You Still Have Options
It would be incorrect to say it will always be easy for people who struggle with both addiction and a health condition to find care. Sometimes, a facility equipped for all your needs may require that you drive quite far. Some people may even need to temporarily relocate while they get treatment at a facility that can handle all of their health needs.
Some health conditions are chronic, so there is no cure. Struggling with addiction may endanger your chances of recovery from the other health condition. Likewise, symptoms of the health problem may trigger a relapse to substance abuse if they aren’t effectively managed. This is why all conditions must be addressed simultaneously.
Some facilities can meet your needs. You may find a treatment center that is associated with a hospital that can manage your other health condition. Your treatment plan may involve an initial hospital stay before you transition to the rehab facility.
Altering your life to deal with addiction may be inconvenient, but it can lead to significant gains in quality of life. If you’re dealing with a serious health condition along with addiction, the increase in life quality might be even more substantial.