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Managing Pain Without Addictive Drugs

And Breaking a Family Cycle of Addiction

All too often, a routine surgery ends in crippling drug addiction, but many of the patients who are prescribed opioid painkillers may not need them. In one touching personal story from The New York Times, a mother with a family history of addiction shares her teenage daughter’s drug-free recovery.

A History of Addiction

The author’s family had a challenging history of drug and alcohol addiction. Her grandparents died of alcoholism, as did her father-in-law. More recently, the author lost her 43-year-old brother to a heroin overdose. Sadly, her brother developed an opioid addiction after taking prescribed OxyContin following an appendectomy.

With this troubling family history, the author was terrified when her 13-year-old daughter needed hernia surgery. It was not the surgery she was scared of, but rather the opiates that would be part of her child’s recovery plan. Thanks to a popular TED Talk, the author developed an alternate plan. She would accept the 44-tablet Oxycodone tablet prescription but try to avoid giving the drugs to her daughter if possible.

Instead, the family would surround the 13-year-old with comfort.

Rat Park

The plan described above was inspired not only by the TED Talk but also by a famous experiment dubbed “Rat Park.” Rats that live alone in cages with food, water, and heroin choose heroin, become addicted, and die. Rats that live in “rat park,” however, have social time with other rats, treats, entertainment, and heroin. Because the rats are happy, social, and connected, they thrive instead of becoming addicted to the heroin that was available.

With this study in mind, the author wondered if she could manage her daughter’s pain with the girl’s favorite movies, books, and foods; cuddling, and cozy clothes. When the author’s daughter came home from the hospital, she was greeted with chicken noodle soup and warm sourdough, as well as “an inviting nest of fluffy pillows and blankets,” wrapped gifts, and stuffed animals.

The author made her family home into their very own “rat park.”

Coping With Pain

The first day after surgery, the author’s daughter woke up with mild discomfort. The family enjoyed a day of ice cream for breakfast, popcorn, and their 13-year-old’s favorite movies. While the girl experienced some pain, over-the-counter meds like Advil and Tylenol helped, and the family received greeting cards and balloon bouquets from loved ones, played board games, and solved puzzles.

After 3 days, the author’s daughter did not even want ibuprofen or acetaminophen. The author was shocked. Although she was relieved, she couldn’t help but think of her brother – without his experience, she may have given her daughter 44 addictive painkillers without a second thought.

In any case, her daughter’s resilience gave the author hope that the next generation would be able to break her family’s cycle of addiction.

At The Nestled Recovery Center, we shared the author’s story because we hope it inspires those struggling with substance use disorder.

A happy, drug-free life is possible, and you can recover from any pain you are facing with the right care and community.

The Holistic Model of Wellness

We focus our treatments on the 8 dimensions of wellness because when you are healthy, motivated, and cared for, drugs and alcohol become less appealing and addiction gets easier to break.

Prioritize your social, emotional, spiritual, occupational, financial, environmental, physical, and mental health at The Nestled Recovery Center. Our cozy, comfortable upscale-boutique addiction treatment center is the perfect place to heal. With only 10 beds, you will receive a confidential and individualized approach to therapy from our compassionate, understanding team.

Discover our oasis destination for addiction recovery. Call us at (702) 299-6406 or contact us online to start working on your personalized treatment plan today.

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