| alcohol use disorder

Self-Medicating With Alcohol

Hazardous Drinking Patterns

Alcohol may have analgesic properties, but how well does it work for chronic pain? Researchers, publishing their findings in the Journal of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, compared pain threshold, pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, and perceived relief in social drinkers with and without chronic jaw pain. The small study group of 48 resulted in the following findings:

Drinkers without chronic pain demonstrated:

  • Higher pain threshold
  • Lower pain intensity/unpleasantness
  • Greater perceived relief

Those with chronic pain had:

  • Greater pain sensitivity
  • Lower pain threshold
  • Higher pain intensity
  • Greater pain unpleasantness

The study concluded that, “Findings provide experimental evidence of alcohol's analgesic and pain-relieving effects and suggest that these effects do not significantly differ by chronic pain status. Individuals, who self-medicate pain via alcohol consumption, irrespective of pain status, may be at increased risk to engage in hazardous drinking patterns and thus experience adverse alcohol-related consequences.”


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