Living with Chronic Illness and Addiction

by Bajeerao Patil

Addiction is a deadly cycle that impacts central nervous system. Once you get addicted to any mood altering substance including painkillers you start feeling powerless over it, and you crave for it even when you know it has been impacting your life negatively. Addiction impairs your judgment, and you end up doing things that are out rightly wrong or unhealthy. Your obsession with drugs or alcohol is self-centered, self-destructive and progressive in its own way. As long as you continue using mood altering chemicals your addiction continues to progress. It also means what you practice you become. You practice addiction you become an addict. You practice recovery you become a recovering addict.

Brooke’s Story:

A couple of years ago, I worked with a female patient, Brooke. She was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and chronic back pain. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease, which attacks central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves). She was experiencing fatigue, dizziness, pain, numbness, headache, depression and several other symptoms. While in treatment, she received physical therapy and was prescribed certain pain medication to manage her pain. Initially, she was compliant with her medication but later she began to abuse her pain medication. When her doctor found out that she was abusing her medication, he informed her that he wouldn’t prescribe her pain medication until she received help.

While in rehab, she was medication seeking. She would ask for Klonopin and Neurotin even when she wasn’t supposed to receive them. Brooke’s addiction had impacted her self-esteem negatively. She was always irritable and didn’t want to listen to others no matter what they had to say to her. She firmly believed that others had ulterior motives and no one wanted to help her. She lacked confidence and didn’t think she would ever be able live without abusing pain killers. It took several weeks for her to understand the importance of adherence to her treatment. Later, she did make some lifestyle changes including regular exercise, proper diet, regular meditation, yoga, relaxation techniques etc. Use of different therapies in conjunction with conventional medical treatment helped her manage her pain and perform well.

Just like Brooke, most addicts believe that using mood-altering chemicals will help them feel different or relieve them of their pain or misery and make them happy. However, in reality, it does not help them get any better or relieve them of any pain or misery. Actually things start going from bad to worse. It keeps them sick and addicted. Consequently life becomes completely unmanageable. I have worked with several individuals who misused their pain medication and weren’t able to stop until they received proper help and followed through with their after care planning.

Addiction to mood altering chemicals continues to progress as long as one continues to use them. Initially, most addicts pick up their first drink or drug thinking they will have only a couple of drinks or hits and stop. But once they start they want more and more and more. The desire to use never ceases. In the process, they forget that they were supposed to stop after a couple of shots or hits and proceed to use until stoned or completely drunk. For many, the obsession with the mood altering chemicals becomes so strong they constantly start thinking about their next fix. Day in and day out, they crave the substance they are addicted to.

Furthermore, addiction not only enhances existing issues but also multiplies them.

Bajeerao PatilRemember, obsession with mood altering chemicals is a serious issue and should not be ignored. It is always advisable to seek help before it is too late. Trust me, if you are determined and implement the proper action plan you can maintain lifelong sobriety and live life of your choice again.

About Bajeerao Patil

Bajeerao Patil has been treating addiction as a drug and alcohol counselor for over twenty-five years. He has a Masters in Social Work and Human Resources. To learn more about Patil visit him online at or check out his work on


TRISH ROBICHAUD is an award-winning Life & Business Coach who lives with MS. She teaches women living with chronic illness or disability how to honour and accommodate their health as a foundation for life. Book a free OPTIMAL HEALTH or HEALTHY BUSINESS Strategy Session at or

Comments are closed