Jan 25, 2021

Alcohol as Analgesia: Does It Really Numb the Pain?

Chronic pain and alcohol consumption are both very common in the general population, and alcohol is often used to numb both physical and emotional pain.

In this presentation, Drs. Jennifer Hah and Ravi Prasad discuss the epidemiology of co-occurring pain and alcohol use. In addition, we will review the latest evidence surrounding the interaction between alcohol consumption and pain. Moderate alcohol use has been associated with improved pain related outcomes for certain pain conditions.

However, both excessive binge drinking and alcohol use disorder are associated with worsened pain outcomes including increased pain intensity, and alcohol use is associated with specific pain conditions. Pain may also trigger alcohol consumption, and alcohol consumption represents a negative pain coping strategy.

The interaction of alcohol with pharmacologic treatments for pain will be reviewed, and behavioral strategies to treat co-occurring alcohol use disorder and chronic pain, and to reduce problem drinking, will be presented.