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Preparing for Surgery After Treatment: What to Expect

You have successfully completed addiction treatment and are moving forward with your recovery. Now you are faced with the prospect of needing surgery for an ailment or an injury. Your first thought may be about the drugs that physicians and surgeons always suggest for how to deal with the surgery and its effects. When preparing for surgery after treatment, you should know what to expect for your pain management.

Before Your Surgery

It’s important that you take care of your physical and mental health prior to your surgery. Being in the best condition you can be in will help you heal from your surgery. Anesthesiologists recommend that you spend your time before the surgery being as active as you can, eating right, and getting as much good sleep as you can. If you smoke, stop now, if only a day or two before your surgery, and it will help you tremendously as smoking can cause problems with breathing during the procedure and with recovery from your anesthesia and surgery.

A Discussion with the Anesthesiologist

During the surgery, you will be under anesthesia, which is essentially a way to put you into a very sound sleep so you will not be aware of what is happening during the procedure. The anesthesiologist will need some information from you and will be able to answer many of your questions. Be prepared to discuss your medical history, your health habits, and your past experiences with surgery and anesthesia. Be honest about your addiction and your treatment program.

You will need to tell the anesthesiologist about any chronic health conditions you may have as well as about any medications you are currently taking, including over the counter supplements and vitamins. You also need to discuss your use of alcohol or recreational drugs, including marijuana, narcotics, and stimulants. Use of these substances, even past use, could affect how you react to being put under during surgery.

It will be especially important to discuss your experience with anesthesia and whether you currently have any fears about anesthesia or the surgery itself. If you’ve ever experienced any side effects or had any other issues, let the anesthesiologists know.

Post-Surgery Pain

After your surgery is over and the anesthesia wears off, you may feel pain in the area that underwent the procedure as well as in other parts of your body. You may experience muscle pain in your neck, shoulders, chest, or back from lying on the operating table for an extended period of time. You may also experience a sore or scratchy throat. Your doctor will probably want you to sit up and walk around as an important part of your recovery and those activities may also cause you pain until you start to fully heal.

Alternatives for Pain Management

An important piece in your discussion with your physician and your anesthesiologist is the fact that you are in recovery from addiction. You and your provider can determine a method of pain management that will work best for you and that will not involve opioids or other prescription painkillers. The good news is that nine out of ten patients say their pain is either significantly reduced to the point of being very mild or completely gone four days after surgery. Sometimes, simple therapies such as ice, elevation, and rest can reduce the pain you feel at the site of the surgical procedure.

Alternatives for pain relief when you have surgery after treatment can include over-the-counter painkillers, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen. Non-drug therapies can also be very effective for pain management after surgery.

Physical therapy is another alternative to prescription painkillers. This type of pain management technique involves a professional who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation who can create an exercise program that will help you improve your ability to function and that will decrease your pain. Acupuncture has also been found to be very helpful for pain management for many people experiencing surgery after treatment.


When you are struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, we help you heal your mind and your body while addressing the underlying issues that lead to your addiction. At BRC Recovery, we bring you real change for your life, with proven treatment options that will empower you to recreate and reclaim your life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we offer a safe, clean environment so you can continue receiving the highest quality of care. To learn more about our services and to get the help you need, please call BRC Recovery at 1-866-291-2676 to speak to our team.