Pain Killers: Dependence vs. Addiction



Pain Killers: Physical Dependence vs. Addiction

Some people have chronic intractable pain. Pain specialists and other doctors realize these patients have terrible pain syndromes which can't be managed any other way than by treating them with opioids such as Vicadin or Oxycodone. At times these patients end up becoming physically dependent on the pain killers. This is not the same as an addiction. These chronic pain sufferers can also become iatrogenically addicted. In other words physical dependence is not the same as addiction to pain killers.

Caffeine Withdrawal Analogy

For example, if one drinks coffee every day and then suddenly stops, they would typically get a headache and feel bad. This is not addiction, it is a response to physical dependence, a pharmacological effect. If one were to abruptly stop or cease taking a medical substance such as a pain killer, one also might experience a temporary 'withdrawal'. This is what caffeine withdrawal is like; you wait a day or two and you don't feel that way anymore.

Signs of Dependence

Opiates / pain killers can cause physical dependence, anti depressants can cause physical dependence . In this situation, one gets a withdrawal symptom when one abruptly ceases using the drug. It doesn't mean one is addicted or has loss of control it just means one is physically dependent.

Signs of Addiction

At Comprehensive Pain Medicine in Pompano Beach, we have patients who are physically dependent on opiates ( pain killers ) as a normal consequence of their pain management treatment. Addiction is a loss of control, a craving, a compulsive use of the medication, the impulsive use in which environmental stimuli cause relapse and cravings for the medications. This is a completely different disease. People who have chronic intractable pain can often get these medicines inappropriately or over use them and become addicted.

Or you or a loved one has become addicted to pain killers and need caring assistance, or if you are not sure whether you are physically dependent or addicted, contact Comprehensive Pain Medicine in Pompano Beach for a confidential consultation at 954.545.0106.