@David B , thank you for your testimony re: recreational abuse of substances.
A reality is, many people resort to alcohol to relieve pain - both literal and figurative pain - and at least Legally, alcohol generally requires one to be of age to purchase whereas addictive pharma meds require a special note from your doctor BUT despite these legal requirements, both are readily available on the streets to anyone who has a want or need to use them for whatever purpose they have in mind …. the streets do not care how young/old , naive or beholden a given user is 🙁
As for @MacMacMac’s situation, there are natural substances that provide pain relief. There are also things you can do AND not do to relieve pain. For the latter, tops on the list is to avoid refined sugars PS- both real as well as fake/synth/HFCS refined sugars , which are both addictive, and inflammatory. In the latter case, sugar can cause pains to flare up, seemingly out of nowhere “the blue”, pretty much anywhere in the body, especially for older people. They can also make expected pains - like arthritis - worse. For anyone who doubts this and happens to be a regular user, the best proof is to stop ingesting any/all refined sugars for a test period ….. say a week or two.
Caffeine is a specific in the practice of natural/herbal remedies but this specific generally will not work for those who consume caffeine daily. And yes, while many common substances - namely sugar - are both addictive and will ultimately lead to death, death by sugar usually takes longer than does opioids, cocaine and other harsh substances of abuse. This may be a main reason why many people consider sugar “safe”.