Opiate Addiction vs Dependence

The first thing that comes to mind when seeing or knowing someone who suffers from opiate drugs use, is that even if that person knows that drugs cause him serious health problems, he can’t stop using them. However, between a drug dependent person and a drug addicted person there is quite a significant difference.

What is opiate dependence?

Usually, opiate dependence develops when there is chronic use of many drugs. This can happen even if these are prescription drugs taken as instructed and under medical supervision. Physical dependence to opioids occurs when the human body relies on an external source of opioids to prevent withdrawal. In this way, opiate dependence is predictable, easily managed with medication. It can be resolved with a slow taper off of the drug.

Drug dependence doesn’t represent addiction, but it often accompanies addiction. On the other side, people may be opiate dependent without being addicted. This is the situation when a person is able to take his opioid medication as a prescription pain reliever and neither loses self-control, nor develops an uncontrollable desire to use the drug.

What is opiate addiction?

Opiate addiction is compulsive drug use despite serious consequences on the human body. It represents the inability to stop taking a drug and to complete daily duties. Opiate addiction is abnormal and it is classified as a disease.

A consequence to addiction is withdrawal. This is the situation when the body adapts to the drug, requires more and more of it to get the needed effect, and stopping it leads to uncomfortable and sometimes serious physical and psychological symptoms. Another commonality to all addictions are strong cravings. Cravings are deeply implanted in the affected brain.

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