How Do I Stay Clean and Sober Through Surgery?

Life in recovery often seems to be going perfectly fine when life throws a wrench in your plans. Surgery typically requires using strong medications to control your pain, and you might be worried about having a relapse if you’ve been working hard to stay off of drugs. Your concerns about having a relapse are valid since many people find it hard to wean off of habit-forming drugs once they’ve fully recovered from a surgical procedure.

Fortunately, physicians are more aware of the need to be concerned about opioid misuse, and there are many forms of support that you can use to stay clean and sober through surgery. As your upcoming appointment for surgery draws closer, you can use these strategies to avoid letting your treatment interfere with your addiction recovery.

Ask for Support From Your Medical Team and Loved Ones

The opioid crisis brought increased recognition of the issues that arise from over-prescribing strong pain medications. Although many doctors won’t hesitate to prescribe painkillers for someone who is recovering from surgery, they tend to be more cautious about how and when they do. Your medical team will be especially careful to avoid prescribing too much or too strong of a dose of painkillers if you let them know about your history of addiction.

Being open about your recovery and preferences helps them know that you are okay with them exploring other options before they resort to strong painkillers. You’ll also want to reach out to other members of your support network at this time. If you have family members at home, then you might ask them to help you stay accountable by only taking your medications as they are prescribed. Or, they may be great at helping to keep you distracted from your physical and emotional stress while you wait for the majority of your post-operative pain to subside. If you’ve been in addiction treatment before, then you might also have counselors, sober mentors, and others who are willing to help you through this challenging time.

Use Non-Habit Forming Types of Pain Relief

The use of general anesthesia is common during major surgeries, and you might need strong painkillers during the immediate hours after your procedure. After that, you might be able to use non-medication pain therapies that help to keep you comfortable.

Some of these options might even be familiar if you learned them to help you manage stress during your addiction recovery.

  • massage therapy
  • grounding work
  • deep breathing
  • meditation

Over-the-counter pain medications can often be helpful for relieving pain, and hot and cold therapy can also be effective for easing inflammation that increases discomfort. If you do find yourself needing something stronger, then your medical team may be able to prescribe other medications that are not known for leading to addictions. While you want to avoid habit-forming medications as much as possible, you also want to make sure that the stress of being in pain doesn’t lead to intolerable cravings.

Have a Plan to Prevent Relapse Throughout Your Recovery

No matter what you do, the truth is that you are still at risk of having a relapse simply because going through surgery is a stressful event. Your mind and body will be taxed beyond measure, but this doesn’t have to lead to you engaging in unhealthy behaviors. Focusing on the good things that you are doing to improve your health can help you to overcome some of the psychological trauma that occurs after having a surgical procedure done.

Following your doctor’s orders and doing your therapeutic exercises gives you a sense of control during a time when your body might not be functioning as normal. You’ll also want to have a plan of action for handling a potential relapse. You can start now by reviewing the signs of an impending relapse such as thinking about misusing prescription painkillers or taking more than the doctor prescribes. You can also put together a list of resources that you can use if you suspect that a relapse is coming or if you actually experience one.

Knowing which rehab you want to call helps you take action fast so that your addiction doesn’t have the chance to rear its ugly head again. Are you preparing for surgery and have concerns about how you’ll stay clean throughout your recovery? We can help! Reach out to our team today at 302-842-2390 for help preparing your post-surgery action plan.