Opiate Dependence vs. Addiction
While it’s true that millions of Americans are addicted to opiates, millions more do use the medications safely to treat both short-term pain from temporary injuries and long-term, chronic pain from serious accidents and diseases.
So, what’s the difference between safe and unsafe use of opiates? It depends whether a person is dependent on the drugs or addicted to them. Both dependence and addiction are separate, albeit related phenomena that originate in different parts of the brain.
Being dependent on a drug simply means that a patient will experience withdrawal symptoms if they cease to use the medication. In comparison, addiction is characterized by a lack of control involving the use of a drug, in which a person will continue to use a drug despite increasingly negative effects on their health, family, career, and relationships.
Therefore, while most addicts are dependent on the drugs they use, many people who are dependent on drugs are not addicted to them. However, anyone who is dependent on opiates like OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin, and Fentanyl should be extremely careful to use their medication responsibly– as just a few days or weeks of misuse could lead to the beginning of a serious addiction.
When a patient is dependant on opiate-based painkillers, there are many warning signs that their dependence could be turning into an addiction.
Some of the warning signs of prescription opiate addiction may include:
- A preoccupation or obsession with taking the next dose of medication
- Taking old pills or hoarding new ones in order to get high
- Isolation and/or lack of interest in other areas of life
- Seeing a new doctor to get a different prescription without telling the current doctor
Just one or two of these things happening on occasion may not be enough for a patient to form a fully-blown addiction to their pain medication, but if these warning signs begin to occur regularly, than it could be a sign of addiction.
If a patient realizes that they are participating in one or more of these warning signs of addiction, they may be able to become more responsible and disciplined on their own without professional help. However, much of the time, patients are unable to realize the fact that they are at risk for addiction before it’s too late to stop on their own.
The first step in treating opiate addiction is to clear the body of the drug, a process that’s best completed in a detox setting. Medical professionals will be able to supervise a patient and continuously monitor his or her vital signs, as well as provide medications and other treatments to make the opiate withdrawal process more comfortable. This process is likely to last up to a week to ten days.
After undergoing a detox, a patient should seek out professional opiate addiction treatment from an accredited substance abuse recovery center. It’s often recommended that patients begin treatment with an inpatient or residential opioid addiction recovery program, and later transition to outpatient treatment once they’ve gotten more confident and experienced in their sobriety.
If you want to experience true opioid addiction recovery in a luxurious, community-based, and supportive setting, look no further than the Restore Center. Our group of counselors, patients, teachers, and alumni will work together to heal your mind, body, and soul.