I know with the latest Oxycontin crap hitting the fan, people are throwing around the word “addiction” like its going out of style. Let me clarify a few points here.
Addiction is NOT the same as Dependence. People associate withdrawal symptoms with addiction. Fact of the matter is, it appears with both. Example:
Withdrawals is the body’s natural response to a sudden change in receptor block/activation. If I dump 500mg of atenolol into someone, they are going to have (among other things) a very abrupt reaction. Because I am not withholding medication, its not really withdrawals, but it illustrates the same principle.
Now lets look at Addiction. The basic difference between the two is mostly psychological. Why are they taking it? Are they taking it for a euphoric effect or are they taking it so they can live a decent quality of life with a broken back/cancer pain/whatever.
Now the line gets blurred by patients who are on narcs for legit reasons, but their pain is uncontrolled, so they take it upon themselves to go and doctor/pharmacy shop to obtain more to control their pain. Even if it resorts to doing illegal things.
Nothing fries my wires more than having some doctor refuse to prescribe oxycontin or fentanyl to a chronic pain patient because they are afraid they will be “addicted”. Sure, and giving them 200 Vicodin ES/month (wtf?) and blowing out their liver is the correct way to go. Theres a reason why these things are C2 narcotics. They have very abrupt and euphoric effects and guess what… THEY ARE REALLY REALLY GOOD FOR CHRONIC PAIN! Of course trying to explain this to a doctor is about as useful as a debating with a turd. They just get all pissy and hang up (so much for “patient care”). Then you have the patient ask the question “Will I become addicted to these?” The answer is “If you are dosed correctly, you will become dependent on them to live a normal quality of life. Its like insulin or any other medication.”
Sometimes it just amazes me as to how much fear doctors put in patients that is 100% unwarranted and unneeded. Maybe it’s just a CYA move, but it ends up doing tons more harm than good. So there you have it. Be it right or wrong (in your opinion) thats my take on Addiction vs Dependence.