Gaining Perspective and Knowledge
Dependence vs. Addiction
Physical dependence occurs because of normal adaptations to chronic exposure to a drug and is not the same as addiction. Addiction, which can include physical dependence, is distinguished by compulsive drug seeking and use despite sometimes devastating consequences.
Someone who is physically dependent on a medication will experience withdrawal symptoms when use of the drug is abruptly reduced or stopped. These symptoms can be mild or severe (depending on the drug) and can usually be managed medically or avoided by using a slow drug taper.
Dependence is often accompanied by tolerance, or the need to take higher doses of a medication to get the same effect. When tolerance occurs, it can be difficult for a physician to evaluate whether a patient is developing a drug problem, or has a real medical need for higher doses to control their symptoms. For this reason, physicians need to be vigilant and attentive to their patients’ symptoms and level of functioning to treat them appropriately.
Please watch this informative video on the subject:
The reinforcer with opioid drugs is very concentrated and that’s why people like it – opioid drugs produce a rush of euphoria much more intense than other pleasures such as spending time with a loved one or friend.
The body produces abnormally high levels of dopamine so persons with opioid addiction don’t experience normal levels of reward.
People in early recovery don’t experience normal levels of reward, which makes them much more susceptible to relapsing in those first 6-9 months. Over time with abstinence, brain receptors naturally start to readjust, and then persons with addictions start to experience normal levels of reward again.
- 50% of the risk of addiction is genetically mediated
- 90% of adults with dependence start using before age 18
- 50% of adults start using before age 15
- The reasons people start and stop using drugs are often the same :
TO FEEL GOOD, TO FEEL BETTER, TO DO BETTER, OTHER PEOPLE ARE DOING IT
- Early detection and intervention is likely to shorten the impact and course
The Opioid epidemic has its roots in the availability of the highly concentrated prescription painkiller, Oxycontin, made available in the United States in 1996. This pharmaceutical drug has chemical properties similar to heroin, and like heroin, physical dependence can develop quickly.
Opioid users often report the onset of their opioid addiction with Oxycontin use. On the streets, OxyContin sold for $1 per mg. (80 mg. =$80). Over time, as tolerance increased, so did the need for more pills, and crushing/ snorting was often used to enhance the effects. The high cost led many to thievery, and cheaper alternatives such as Vicodin, Percocet and Heroin (snort able and 80 to 90% pure).
Currently there is an opioid epidemic across the country. Young people and those predisposed to addiction are highly susceptible. Many begin experimenting with painkillers between the ages of 17-26 and many will become addicted as a result of legitimate medical use.