Many people use alcohol to do something with stress or pain. It’s considered socially acceptable to go into a pub or stay home and drown sorrows in wine. The only apparent problem comes if the result of drinking is a breach of the peace. For some reason, society sees no problem with those who quietly kill themselves, but locks up anyone who is rowdy or aggressive. In reality, however, there are real problems for a society that has pubs in all towns and cities, and piles up bottles and cans for people to buy in supermarkets and corner shops. The use of alcohol is considered normal and routine. It’s less often seen as abuse and dangerous.
For doctors and pain management specialists, this “everyday” approach to drinking alcohol needs to be directly addressed. Let’s be honest. People drink to relieve stress and feeling pain is a source of stress. Thus, people should be counseled about the potential dangers if they mix alcohol with any of the prescription drugs used for pain relief. Without actual warnings, people’s habits and lifestyle choices will continue as usual with visits to the pub or bottles and cans at home. The results can be long-term damage to the intestinal system and liver.
In recently published research, a team in Florida monitored the behavior of some four thousand adults with chronic pain. The results show that slightly more than a quarter of the participants continued to drink alcohol as a pain management strategy. This was more common among men than women. The culture of drinking is stronger among the male community. But, perhaps surprisingly, medium to high income men were the most likely to drink. In some respects this is counterintuitive. Higher income individuals are more able to afford health insurance and the associated medical expenses. The researchers had expected a better sense of responsibility and a greater willingness to abandon alcohol in favor of medication. But it seems alcohol is not the poor man’s remedy of choice. Further, the decision to drink was not related to the degree of the pain suffered. Some participants had a low threshold, others held out until the pain became intense. The main reason given for using alcohol was convenience. When it comes to self-medication, alcohol can be sipped over time. Pills require slightly more thought because they come in fixed doses with a more obvious risk of overdose.
The medical profession is slowly changing its protocols to advise people suffering long-term pain on the risks of mixing alcohol. The hope is the clear majority can be persuaded to rely only on the more effective drugs, for example, buy tramadol, and to change their habit patterns involving drinking. To date, all the results of research focus on the adverse results after the event. It’s unethical to run clinical trials on the effects of combining alcohol and tramadol. Researchers therefore rely on the honesty of participants to report their alcohol use and the hospitals accurately to report on the number of alcohol-related problems with pain killers like tramadol. The drugs are usually enough on their own to relieve moderate to severe pain. People should not risk making their health problems worse by drinking any alcohol on a regular basis.