What is the Difference between Physical Dependence and Addiction to Pain Medications and when is Detox Necessary?
Nearly 75 percent of Americans struggle with pain medication abuse. In the last few years prescription pain medication use among the elderly and teens has increased especially for OxyContin. But are all these people addicted? What is the difference between physical dependence and addiction to pain medications, and when is detox necessary?
Addiction is compulsive action even though there are harmful consequences. In addiction there is an inability to resist or stop using the pain medication along with other changes including the failure to meet obligations and responsibilities such as financial, work/school and family needs; neglecting personal hygiene and their behavior is centered on getting more of the drug. Indications that addiction has occurred may include:
- Self-medicating, without a doctor’s prescription
- Recreational use of the pain medication when it is no longer needed
- “Doctor shopping” to get more of the pain medication
- Exhibiting a defensive attitude when questioned about pain medication use
- Changes in personality, mood, energy and concentration
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Sensitive to sounds, light and emotions and may have hallucinations
Understanding Pain Medication Dependence
In chronic pain medication use, the body becomes accustomed to the drug and in most cases a tolerance develops meaning that there has to be a continued increase in the amount of the pain medication used to achieve the same euphoria. If the pain medication is withheld or the amount is decreased, withdrawal symptoms will appear. The most common pain medication withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Excessive sweating
- Flu-like symptoms
- Loss of consciousness
- Coma and death
It is important to note that physical dependence to prescription pain medication can occur even when the drug is taken as directed. Physical dependence does not equal addiction, but it frequently accompanies addiction. Most research indicates that when physical dependence is left unchecked, it will likely turn into addiction.
When is Detox Necessary?
Detox is necessary when the individual cannot stop their pain medication use on their own. If the person has tried to taper off pain medication without success, then an inpatient medical detox may be the next step. Inpatient medical detox for pain medication dependence or addiction usually lasts from about seven to ten days. Medical detox is available in a hospital or private facility with significant differences between the two. For example hospital detox most often relies on oral medications that are not very effective at controlling withdrawal symptoms, while IV therapy is the method most preferred by doctors because of its ability to control withdrawal symptoms and keep the patient comfortable. Do you need help understanding what is the difference between physical dependence and addiction to pain medication and when is detox necessary? Call Gallus Detox Center today, at 855-338-6929 to speak with an admission team member. Help is here!