August 23, 2017

Chronic Pain and Chemical Dependency Track

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Pain Track

[frame align=”left”]Detox Made Easier in Laguna Beach at Mission Pacific Coast Recovery[/frame]Chronic pain is a significant healthcare problem affecting at least 75 million Americans each year. While acute pain has the positive effect of alerting the body to acute or potential organ damage, chronic pain can be a debilitating condition for the individual, affecting almost every aspect of daily living, from sleep to self esteem. Non Malignant chronic pain is a common occurrence in today’s society. A small subset of this group is the chemically addicted, chronic pain patient who represents anywhere between 3% to 18% of the chronic pain population. These patients tend to have a genetic predisposition to rapid tolerance to narcotic analgesics and find themselves having to take ever increasing doses of medication to achieve any therapeutic effect. Over time, very large doses of medications are necessary to achieve any pain management at all. The phenomenon of tolerance and withdrawal creates a vicious cycle that removes personal options and creates a sense of powerlessness. No one seems to understand the situation you are in, and feelings of depression and despair are all to frequent. Finding help can be difficult. Most drug treatment centers are not equipped to effectively deal with chronic pain issues and pain clinics tend to have little knowledge about addiction recovery. The Pain Tract is designed to fill this treatment gap. It is appropriate for those individuals who have relied on narcotic analgesics as their primary strategy in the treatment of chronic pain and have experienced side effects or other untoward consequences that may warrant a change. For many, abnormally high tolerance interferes with therapeutic relief from pain, and for others the side effects of sedation and depression interferes with daily functioning. If you and your treating physician agree that trying an alternative to narcotic analgesics is appropriate, then the Mission Pacific Coast Recovery is a good place to start.

Chemical Dependency Treatment begins with medically managed detoxification designed to effectively treat withdrawal symptoms and protect from breakthrough pain. Traditional chemical dependency treatment is then supplemented by additional issue focused groups and techniques designed to create an alternative pain management treatment strategy to replace the use of narcotic analgesics. Alternative pain management methods are introduced while in chemical dependency treatment under the direction of the medical director.

Alternative Pain Management Methods

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Group Psychotherapy

[frame align=”left”]Mission Pacific Coast Recovery Lobby[/frame]Group therapy is provided with the understanding that psychological factors can aggravate or mitigate the experience of pain. Pain signals from the body are integrated with psychological information. The body releases natural painkillers called endorphins that can reduce the transmission of pain signals. Scientific studies show that unprocessed emotional material; anxiety, fear and negative emotional states can increase or intensify the experience of pain. Whereas, a positive emotional state and a sense of control gained in part through improved coping can decrease the perception of pain.

Group psychotherapy allows the patient to address personal issues in an honest and supportive environment. The group process enhances therapeutic change through catharsis, mobilizing internal resources, recognizing environmental influences, identifying practical strategies and examining personal choices. The patients are aided by realizing they are not alone, that their problems are not unique and through helping and being helped by patients in different stages of managing their pain and in different stages of their recovery. The desired growth and change that occurs in the milieu is improved through work done within the fundamental social unit of the group.

The individual patient can make the most of the treatments provided by truly choosing to “enter therapy.” This is achieved through being honest, open and genuine with themselves and others as they review their personal history, life and the lives of their fellows. Living with the truth, staying in touch with real sometimes painful feelings, as well as making room for beautiful, profound life-changing experience is the real work of treatment. It is about listening more than talking, about temporarily suspending judgment, accepting others, their experiences, their input and being flexible in your beliefs.


Over the past 25 years, millions of patients have chosen acupuncture either in addition, or, as an alternative to conventional western medical treatment. Thousands of physicians, dentists, and therapists have incorporated this ancient Asian technique into there practices. There appears to be good reason for pursuing acupuncture therapy for a variety of health conditions. Chief among these is pain management. In a recently published report, a consensus development panel for the NIH found that sufficient evidence of acupuncture’s value exists to expand its use into conventional medicine (NIH Consensus Development Panel on Acupuncture. JAMA 1998; 280:1518-1524).

The theoretical basis of acupuncture assumes that disease is the result of disruptions in the patterns of energy flow coursing through the human body. Acupuncture techniques utilized at designated points close to the skin corrects these disruptions and helps to restore health. Studies have also confirmed that acupuncture stimulates the release of opioid peptides, while the administration of opioid antagonists reverses this effect. This link between acupuncture and the endogenous (made by the body) opioids at least partially explains the analgesic effects of acupuncture. This might also decrease the effectiveness of acupuncture techniques while on opioid therapy. Acupuncture also has been shown to produce changes in the regulation of blood flow and to alter the secretion of neurotransmitters and neurohormones. Acupuncture has also been found to be effective in the relief of withdrawal symptoms, and prevents the craving for drugs (Bulletin on Narcotics. Vol XL. No1).

Many acupuncture techniques exist within the practice of acupuncture which includes the use of oriental massage, cupping, acupressure, breathing techniques, and acupuncture. Staff members are also certified in the use of T.E.N.S. units.

Holistic Therapies

The meanings that a person attaches to symptoms or illness provide important factors in the journey to wholeness. Human beings can view pain from numerous frames of reference:

  1. Pain as a challenge
  2. Pain as an enemy
  3. Pain as a punishment
  4. Pain as a weakness
  5. Pain as a strategy
  6. Pain as a value

The journey into wholeness can involve any path which challenges the individual to look beyond superficial meaning to intrinsic value. Understanding that value exists on a unique personal level in relation to the specific path or challenges gives meaning to the healing journey. The importance of meaning can no longer be ignored for it is directly linked with all body systems that influence states of wellness or illness. No prescriptions can be written for meaning; each of us has to attend to our own. With committed effort, faith and trust, life changing transformations occur as a result of an expansion in awareness that the isolated individual is, in fact participating in a universe of divine intention and order. This is not a religion. Spirituality is about finding meaning and purpose to life. It is about getting in touch with your dreams and gifts we were all born with.

Cognitive Therapy:

Through a bio-psycho-spiritual model, these therapy groups are based on the premise that stress and suffering are directly related to an individual’s perception of them, or applied meaning given to them. Thoughts that create stress are often distorted, and can effect beliefs, emotions, behaviors and physiology. By changing negative thoughts, specifically those that trigger and perpetuate distress, the individual can change physical and emotional states. Patients come to understand that how they think creates how they feel, and how they feel affects their ability to heal body, mind, and spirit.

Guided Imagery:

Through the conscious formation of an image, the use of the imagination is initiated with the intention of activating biologic, psychological, and spiritual healing. This process generally involves one, several, or all of the senses, serving as a bridge for connecting body, mind and spirit. Guided imagery can provide access to suppressed information in the subconscious mind, thus serving as a conduit to the release of valuable insights. Through focused concentration, images of healing are directed to specific areas of the body, causing corresponding functions of the brain to act on that particular area.

Heart-Mind Coherence:

The body, mind and spirit are connected. Basically, every cell in your body is affected by your thoughts and emotions. Your immune system, endocrine system, nervous system, and digestive system are all constantly influenced by your state of mind.

By a simple process similar to biofeedback, heart-mind coherence is a measure of beat to beat changes in the heart rate as the heart speeds up and slows down in different patterns. These heart rate changes are influenced by almost anything the brain and mind process, such as thoughts and sounds, but most predominantly, emotions. The electrical frequencies radiated by the heart change dramatically with different emotional states.

These electrical frequencies can affect not only your body-mind-spirit, but your entire environment and all the people in it. Clinical research studies supporting the value of heart/mind coherence have been published in leading medical journals such as, The American Journal of Cardiology, The Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Stress and Medicine, and the Journal or the Advancement of Medicine.


The ancient art of meditation by focusing one’s attention on a single thought, image, or sound has been found to have positive effects on health and well-being. By directing the attention away from worries about the future or preoccupation with the past, meditation reduces stress, which increases oxygen consumption, decreases heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, and heightens awareness. The health benefits of meditation have lone been recognized in the East; however only in the last two decades has meditation become widely accepted in the West, largely as a result of research studies one at Harvard university in the 1970’s. Since that time, instruction in meditation has been added to the curriculum of hundreds of universities and medical schools. The National Institute of Health now recommends meditation as a first line treatment for overall health and well-being.

Therapeutic Breathing:

Through conscious control of the breath, or “mindfulness breathing,” chronic pain can be relieved, or alleviated altogether with consistent practice. The objective of breath control is to stimulate, regulate, and control the vital life force that exists within the body. By letting go of outside distractions and focusing on the breath, the universal life force is allowed to circulate freely.

Music and Movement:

Various forms of artistic endeavor are the entrance to the healing spirit within. Poetry contains deep truths, often in a few well chosen words. Music, the “universal language,” expresses feelings that are beyond words. Dance moves people, literally and figuratively, in space and time. Care of the body-mind-spirit requires freedom of expression to expand healing possibilities unique to each individual. Mindful, centered attention focused on a chosen art form has been found to effect changes in behavior emotions, physiology, stress, and pain. When appropriately used, art forms can serve as a vehicle for reaching non-ordinary states of consciousness. By shifting perception from the left brain linear mind to the right brain creative/intuitive mind, the ability to connect with one’s Higher Power is greatly enhanced.

Pain Book Study

Pain Book Study is a group focused on the review of literature to educate our patients in various modalities to improve the ability to live with Chronic Pain. The group discusses how pain works in the body, acute versus chronic pain, psychological aspects of Pain and unmanageability (when pain and the use of narcotic pain medication have taken control of your life). This group also reviews specific skills for confronting chronic pain and reinforces the use of 12 step work to break the addiction cycle. Pain management modalities discussed include physical therapies (exercise therapy, acupuncture, and mind-body exercises), mental and spiritual pain control (cognitive therapy, stress management, relaxation techniques, and meditation), nutritional therapy (with an emphasis on enhancement of the neurological system and decreasing inflammation), and use of medications in pain management (including use of antidepressants, under the care of a physician, known to manipulate the pain response.

Exercise Groups

Low impact exercise groups are provided on site when approved by the medical director. If necessary, the services of registered Physical Therapists are available when requested by the treating physician.

The Pain Track is a 30 day inpatient program with most insurance plans covering care that is considered Medically Necessary. Inpatient care beyond what is considered medically necessary is elective and is the responsibility of the patient. Admissions are accepted 24 hours per day, seven days per week by appointment.