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The Difference between Addiction and Physical Drug Dependence

The Difference between Addiction and Physical Drug Dependence Prescriptions for painkillers have increased significantly. Prescription pain relievers are strong narcotics prescribed to treat both moderate to severe pain that may result from post-surgery pain to trauma and injuries. While they also are provided for the treatment of chronic pain such as terminally ill conditions, unfortunately, they often lead to dependence and addiction in Louisville residents.

What Is Addiction?

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) addiction is a primary, chronic disease of the brain that impacts the part of the brain that deals with reward, motivation, and memory. The disease’s impact on the brain leads to alterations in biological, psychological, social and spiritual symptoms. Louisville residents can look out for the following signs of addiction:

  • An inability to consistently abstain
  • Impaired behavioral control
  • Craving
  • Decreased recognition of problems with behaviors and interpersonal relationships
  • Dysfunctional emotional response

The ASAM indicates that without treatment, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

The National Institute on Drug Addiction (NIDA) provides a similar definition of addiction and refers to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders. The DSM states that the clinical criteria for addiction include compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences; inability to stop using a drug; failure to meet work, social, or family obligations; and, sometimes, tolerance and withdrawal.

What Is Dependence?

When it comes to physical dependence, NIDA presents two characteristics that define dependence including the following:

  • A condition in which the body adapts to a drug, often requiring more of the drug to achieve a certain effect
  • A state in which a person experiences drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if the drug is abruptly ceased

The first characteristic is known as tolerance and the second as withdrawal.

Treatment Options for Addiction and Physical Drug Dependence

The primary focus of treatment for drug dependence is to allow the body to no longer require the drug. To do so, the person needs to reduce or wean the amount of the drug that they are taking at a slow and controlled pace. Since the body has become tolerant to the current level of the drug, it is important to wean in incremental steps to avoid withdrawal. Many people who have become dependent on prescribed medications are able to work with their physician to establish a schedule that weans them off the drug with little or no withdrawal symptoms.

There are several characteristics about addiction that have nothing to do with the body’s physical requirement for the drug. Therefore, treatment for an addict requires a more comprehensive approach that provides services to deal with these additional characteristics. While detox may be required to help a person manage their withdrawal symptoms, treatment for addiction needs to also focus on the other characteristics. The inability to abstain, impaired behavioral controls, and cravings require counseling and education. An addict needs to understand these aspects their dependence and learn ways to manage these secondary addiction effects. Counseling can also help a person uncover the causes of their dysfunctional emotional responses and help repair interpersonal relationships.

Drug Abuse Help for Louisville Residents

We know that understanding the differences between addiction and dependence can be confusing. However, we can provide information to help you, so please call our toll free number today. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about addiction, dependence, and treatment options.

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