What Is The Difference Between Tolerance & Addiction When It Comes To Pain Meds?

Dr. Welsh answers the question: 'Difference Between Tolerance, Addiction?'

ByABC News
December 26, 2007, 11:17 AM

— -- Question: What Is The Difference Between Tolerance And Addiction When It Comes To Pain Medications?

Answer: Tolerance is one aspect of physical dependence. It's basically when your body gets used to a medication and you no longer get the same amount of pain relief from a given dose of the medication. A person needs to continue to increase the dose of the medication in order to get the same effect.

Withdrawal is another component of physical dependence. That's when the medication is stopped abruptly or the dose is lowered too quickly and a person experiences unpleasant symptoms.

Addiction is more of a behavioral disorder that may or may not include physical dependence. It's generally present when an individual continues to use a drug despite negative consequences on their life, gives up important activities such as work, school, family or other relationships because of the substance use, uses a substance compulsively and is unable to stop once they've started, uses a substance for reasons other than that for which it was intended and craves the substance even when they're not in pain.

Next: Is Physical Dependence The Same As Addiction?

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