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Coping with Cancer Diagnosis in Recovery

Coping with Cancer Diagnosis in Recovery

Life in addiction recovery will be filled with ups and downs, especially when it comes to a person’s health. Completing treatment for substance use disorder and achieving opioid recovery is a mighty feat, and whose who reach their sobriety goals will reap the rewards of better overall health, both physically and mentally. However, with genetics and nature at play, some in recovery may find themselves on the receiving end of a cancer diagnosis that can shake their strength and compromise their ability to resist relapse.

Dealing with Bad News

During comprehensive treatment, patients in opioid recovery work on coping mechanisms with their substance use counselors as well as other forms of therapy. These systems are vital for relapse prevention and also for patients to learn how to cope with hard times during recovery and endure moments where they feel they need to return to old ways of handling stress. Receiving a cancer diagnosis is not always a death sentence, but the health scare can send even the strongest of people into a negative spiral. One of the first steps a person in recovery should take after receiving information of impending health issues is to contact their support system to ensure they have people they can trust around them while processing their feelings about the diagnosis and any future cancer treatment.

Cancer Treatment and Medication

Many people in opioid recovery fear health issues or accidents that require medical intervention due to the possibility of being given opioid medications by EMTs in an ambulance or doctors in the ER. This is a complicated issue, especially when it comes to cancer diagnosis or potentially terminal illness that will require medications that are generally given to ensure the quality of life for a patient who is experiencing pain. For those in opioid recovery facing these situations, communication with medical providers is the most crucial thing to maintain. Secrecy among those in addiction recovery about their health history, as well as keeping details from doctors, can cause devastating setbacks, not just in opioid recovery, but overall health.

There are currently new cancer treatments that offer methods that don’t involve the use of any opioid pain medication. Still, for more aggressive illness, there will have to be a conversation between patient and doctor about how to proceed further. For those still receiving MAT, there are pain medications used for patients on Suboxone® that are effective for treating acute pain, and methods to treat chronic pain as well. Research has found that not treating patients in opioid recovery with pain relief can be more harmful to their health.

A cancer diagnosis is scary for anyone, but for those in opioid recovery who have fought to regain their health and happiness in life, it can be particularly devastating. With modern science and technology, those who are in opioid treatment and recovery can successfully treat their cancer without having to fear relapse or enduring pain throughout their cancer treatment.


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