Renowned Expert in Pain and Addiction Medicine

We helped many patients achieve sobriety while effectively managing pain, allowing them to feel better, improve their quality of life, and put the focus back on living. The multidisciplinary team at Bluff also includes psychiatrists, registered nurses, licensed therapists and counselors, all dedicated to helping patients become sober and pain free.

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Our Commitment to Treating Pain

At Bluff, we regard pain not just as a symptom, but a disease that must be treated in its own right. Inadequate pain relief is a risk factor for relapse. We are committed to ensuring the pain condition itself, as well as any physical or psychiatric conditions underlying it, no longer interfere with the ability to function or to enjoy life.

Our clinical team conducts a thorough evaluation of the cause of the pain to determine if it’s potentially correctable through physical therapy or other treatments. When indicated, we consult with top-level physician specialists from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. Based on this comprehensive assessment, every patient at Bluff receives a pain management plan that takes into account their physical, psychological and emotional recovery.

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Medical and Holistic Therapies

When an individual is dealing with a longstanding pain condition and substance abuse, we approach treating pain and the addiction from multiple angles. During detox, patients are kept comfortable using a variety of medications that ease withdrawal symptoms and alleviate pain.

After detox, patients begin treatment to build the skills to sustain recovery. During this phase of treatment, holistic therapies that recondition the brain, break the cycle of fear and anxiety and reduce perceptions of pain are very effective. Healing techniques include yoga, physical activity to improve strength and flexibility, and mindfulness exercises to reduce stress and feel more at peace.

Non-opioid, non-addictive medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can be very effective in alleviating pain. Anti-depressants and other medications to deal with both pain and psychiatric conditions can also help.

When people are experiencing pain and addiction, sleep often suffers. We work with patients on alleviating insomnia. Feeling well-rested and getting a good night's sleep can go a long way in helping people feel stronger physically and mentally to deal with any challenges they face, physical or emotional.

At Bluff, we take pain conditions very seriously and believe that adequately managing pain is a cornerstone of successful addiction recovery.

The Link Between Chronic Pain and Addiction

Many people who are addicted to opioids share a common story. A prescription for opioid pain medications after an injury, surgery or due to chronic pain triggered a cycle of dependency, followed by addiction, that they felt powerless to control. Some of those individuals had been in recovery for many years prior to their opioid addiction.

As tolerance to the drugs builds up, dependent individuals crave greater quantities of the drugs to get the same effect. If they try to cut back, they experience withdrawal symptoms, such as aches and nausea. When it becomes difficult to get enough prescription painkillers, some turn to heroin or other highly potent, extremely dangerous street drugs.

The Feedback Cycle of Substance Use and Chronic Pain

Both chronic pain and addiction involve abnormalities in neural processing in the brain, particularly in the reward system. Both can progress over time, leading to further maladaptive changes that make each condition worse.

Medicine is still learning about the precise brain mechanisms at work. But pain and addiction can cause a feedback cycle that involves changed perceptions of pain, fear about experiencing pain and anxiety about not being able to alleviate it.

Opioid use can lower the pain threshold, causing people to perceive pain more readily than they did before. Both pain and drug use can also lead to insomnia and depression. In turn, the lack of sleep and psychological distress can heighten perceptions of pain, which fuels substance use. Chronic pain and substance abuse can have devastating effects on a person’s life, including relationships, mental health, social functioning and their ability to work.