The Best Non-Narcotic and Non-Addictive Treatments for Pain

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Pain is a common and unpleasant sensation that we will all experience at some point during our lives. In fact, most of us will experience some degree of pain somewhat regularly. Pain can vary in severity, from stubbing a toe to childbirth — from getting a paper cut to undergoing chemotherapy. Most people will experience pain of all severities over the course of their lifetimes; they will close a finger in the car door, or break a bone, or sustain an even more serious injury.

Pain is not just physically unpleasant, it can also lead to severe emotional damage. If pain is severe enough it can even be emotionally traumatic. Everyone experiences pain differently. When we get injured, a signal travels through our nerve endings up to our brain, and our brain subsequently interprets this pain signal. Because the experience varies so significantly on a person-to-person basis, it can be somewhat difficult to diagnose straightaway. Pain can be concentrated in one location or spread throughout the entire body. It can be extremely short-lived or it can be chronic.

For those who struggle with addiction, learning to live with pain can be quite challenging. It is important to find non-narcotic pain meds, though finding non-addictive pain medication that works as well as narcotic medication can be a feat in and of itself. At Guardian Recovery we focus on teaching our clients safe and effective ways to treat pre-existing pain while living healthy and fulfilling lives of recovery. Contact us today to learn more about alternative options for pain relief.

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The Three Types of Pain

There are three main types of pain. Each of the following types of pain will require a different treatment approach.

1. Acute Pain

Acute pain does not last for very long, but it can be extremely severe. When an individual is experiencing acute pain it is because the central nervous system is sending “emergency messages” to the brain, alerting the brain that something is seriously wrong. Acute pain is common when a severe injury is sustained – like a broken bone or a migraine. Once the underlying issue or injury is treated acute pain will generally be resolved.

There are several different varieties of acute pain, including visceral pain, referred pain and somatic pain. Visceral pain refers to internal pain, and generally stems from problems with the organs. Referred pain concerns pain that is felt somewhere in the body other than where the issue is occurring. For example, those that are experiencing a heart attack might feel pain in their arm or shoulder. Finally, somatic pain concerns an external pain, or a pain that occurs on the skin or the tissue directly below the skin.

2. Chronic Pain

Unlike acute pain, chronic pain lasts for a much longer period of time. Chronic pain can either be intermittent (meaning it crops up on occasion, like back pain or migraines), or ongoing (meaning the pain is constant). Chronic pain can be mild, moderate or severe. Those that struggle with chronic pain will generally need a combination of medication and holistic interventions to help alleviate their persistent discomfort. If someone who struggles with substance abuse or addiction also struggles with chronic pain, it will be important to find a non-addictive pain meds that work. Some holistic treatment options for chronic pain include physical therapy, herbal supplements and regular chiropractic assistance.

3. Other Types of Pain

Phantom pain is a type of pain common amongst amputees, and it is characterized by feeling sensations in a limb that is no longer attached to the body. Neuropathic pain refers to pain caused by nerve damage following an injury, and can lead to ongoing feelings of tingling (pins and needles) and general discomfort. Central pain relates to the problems with the brain and the spinal cord, and can be mild or severe. There are many differing types of additional pain, which is why proper and thorough diagnosis is so essential to appropriate treatment.

The Importance of Diagnosing and Treating Pain

Properly diagnosing the pain is important to adequately treating the pain. If you are experiencing unresolved discomfort it is important that you speak to a healthcare professional as soon as possible. In many cases, the origin of your discomfort will be easily identified and addressed. However, it is best not to put off examination and take the risk. If you have noticed an unidentified source of acute or chronic pain, your explanation of the symptoms will help your healthcare professional determine the cause. During the initial exam, the following questions will likely be asked:

  • Is your pain constant, or does it occur at certain times throughout the day?
  • Where do you feel the pain, and what does it feel like (dull, sharp, shooting, etc.)?
  • Do certain things/positions make the pain feel worse/better?
  • Does your discomfort prevent you from completing daily tasks?
  • Does it affect your mood?
  • Have you attempted to resolve your discomfort through self-medication?

Treating pain of any kind is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it could be an indication of a serious medical problem. Untreated discomfort also frequently leads to substance abuse and addiction.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, chronic pain and drug and/or alcohol abuse often go hand-in-hand. It is estimated that over 100 million Americans struggle with chronic pain — this equates to one-third of the entire population.

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The Best Non-Narcotic Meds for Pain

It is reported that over 2 million American adults currently struggle with a prescription opioid addiction. Fortunately, there are several effective non-narcotic pain meds used for pain of all types and severities. If you have a personal history of substance misuse or opioid addiction, you might be tempted to reach for an oxycodone, hydrocodone or percocet. However, there are many effective alternatives to percocet.

Opiate Alternatives Include:

  • High-dosage ibuprofen or acetaminophen. These over-the-counter pain relievers can be effective when it comes to treating mild or moderate pain, but should not be taken for a prolonged period of time.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications. Some pain is related to inflammation, such as pain from a chronic health condition like arthritis.
  • Antidepressants/tricyclic antidepressants. These non-narcotic prescription medications typically work very well in the treatment of nerve pain.
  • Anesthetic injections. Injections are generally only used to treat acute pain (usually related to injury or surgery).
  • Gabapentinoids. This classification of non-narcotic drugs is also frequently used to treat nerve pain, and has been proven highly effective

The Best Non-Narcotic & Holistic Treatments for Pain

There are also many non-narcotic and non-addictive holistic options when it comes to the treatment of pain. At Guardian Recovery, we have found that a combination of non-narcotic medication and holistic treatment is the most successful in managing pain long-term.

Holistic Methods of Treatment Include:

  • Physical therapy.
  • Relaxation training.
  • Chiropractic services.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Yoga therapy and regular stretching.
  • Regular exercise.
  • The use of ice, or other topical remedies like creams and ointments.

At Guardian Recovery, we are dedicated to providing non-narcotic pain meds and additional treatment options to those who have been struggling with pain and substance abuse. We believe that with highly individualized and comprehensive care, it is completely possible to make a full recovery without the incorporation of addictive substances. For more information on our comprehensive pain and addiction treatment program, contact us today — and if you have any additional questions about pain of any kind, we are happy to help in any way that we can.

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The moment you make the decision to reach out for help you will be put in touch with one of our compassionate Treatment Advisors, who will walk you through our simple and straightforward admissions process. The majority of our Treatment Advisors have been through the process themselves or have helped a loved one through the process, allowing them a unique and compassionate perspective. During our initial phone call we provide a brief pre-assessment which helps us determine which level of care is going to be the best fit. We offer a free, no obligation insurance benefit check to those who are currently insured and offer additional coverage options to those who are not. At Guardian Recovery one of our main priorities is ensuring effective treatment options remain readily available to those in need. No matter what type of chemical substance you or your loved one has been using, we have the ability to develop an effective and individualized treatment program which caters to all of your unique clinical needs. Simply pick up the phone or contact us directly through our website, and we will take care of the rest.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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