The difference between opioid addiction and dependence
The National Institute on Drug Abuse explains there’s a difference between being dependent on opioids and being addicted to these medications. Dependence occurs as your body adapts physiologically to chronic opioid exposure over time. The result is physical discomfort when you miss a dose of an opioid. Tolerance often develops, too, along with dependency — meaning you have to keep taking more and more of the opioid to achieve the effect you originally got from the drug.
Dependence is a part of addiction, but addiction has other components, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Addiction involves additional changes in the brain and is marked by compulsively seeking the drug, even by illegal or other inappropriate ways.
November 02, 2017
Christopher Nystuen, MD, MBA