Historically, alcohol is a predecessor to modern pain management. More recently than we might imagine patients were carried into operating theaters in a drunken stupor to undergo surgery. We have all heard grisly, historical tales of strong men immobilizing terrified patients while surgeons amputated a leg or drilled a hole in the skull. Given that the effects of alcohol appear to be well supported by millions of drinkers who turn to a bad BAC (blood alcohol concentration) for a bad back, we weren’t surprised to see a recent study pinpointed the BAC level of pain relief right at the legal per se BAC limit for DUI in the U.S.
Overall these results suggest that alcohol does deliver effective relief from pain, at least for the type of relatively short-term pain induced in the laboratory. Unfortunately, in 49 states, .08 BAC is where a person is legally drunk – it’s a bad BAC. Those beers you just chugged to relieve your back pain may land you in legal trouble, including an ignition interlock device (IID). Another implication of these findings is that alcohol is cheaper and more convenient that many other pain management solutions, leading to alcohol abuse and habitual drunk driving problems.
Excessive alcohol consumption can present substantial threats to long-term health and provides an increased risk of developing future chronic pain conditions. Plus, using alcohol for pain management requires prolonged use at high levels, right around that bad BAC number or higher. That’s not all, each state can also charge you with a drug-related DUI if you’re on pain meds and driving or if you mix alcohol and drugs.
Living a pain-free life isn’t possible for everyone, and whether you’re facing a one-time injury or a chronic pain issue. Turning to alcohol may seem like a quick and easy solution. However, the effects of drinking away your pain can be physically, mentally and even criminally life-changing.