Is Physical Dependence The Same As Addiction?

Dr. Welsh answers the question: 'Is Physical Dependence The Same As Addiction?'

ByABC News
December 26, 2007, 11:22 AM

— -- Question: Is Physical Dependence The Same As Addiction?

Answer: Physical dependence and addiction are different even though there is some overlap. Physical dependence is present when someone develops tolerance to a substance or when someone experiences withdrawal when they stop taking that substance abruptly.

Tolerance is when your body gets used to a medication and you no longer get the same result from a given dose of the medication. As a result, you need to continue to increase the dose of the medication in order to get the same effect.

However, health professionals need to differentiate whether a person requires a higher dose of medication because the pain is getting worse or because they're developing tolerance.

Addiction is more a behavioral disorder that may or may not also include physical dependence. It's generally present when an individual continues to use substances 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 those for which it was intended such as pain relief, or craves a substance even when they're not in physical pain.

Next: I'm A Recovering Alcoholic. What Types Of Pain Medicine Can I Take?

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