Opioid Use Disorder vs Addiction
When used properly, prescription opioids can be helpful pain-relief, cough suppression and antidiarrheal medications. The danger, however, is that opioids often give users a powerful high or euphoria their brains can start to crave. Opioid medications carry a high potential for abuse, dependence and addiction.
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How do you define those three terms—abuse, dependence and addiction?
- Abuse is when someone is not taking prescription pain medications according to their doctor’s orders, taking more than prescribed or for longer than prescribed.
- Dependence is when the body becomes physically dependent on a chemical to function. When the chemical is taken away, the body’s function is disrupted—producing withdrawal symptoms. People who’ve become dependent but who are not yet addicted are able to stop or taper off their use as directed by their doctor.
- Addiction is when a person continues to use the drug despite harm and consequences. They are unable to stop on their own. They’ve lost power over the medication—it now controls them. People who are addicted are most often also physically dependent and will therefore also experience withdrawal if they stop using.
Opioid Use Disorder or Addiction?
The primary difference between suffering from a substance use disorder and addiction is that a person can have a use disorder without being addicted to a substance. On the other hand, someone who is dealing with addiction is typically also dependent on it and has a disorder. Addiction is evident in that an addict lacks self-control where the substance is concerned. They demonstrate an inability to stop using the substance even if they want to stop.
To sum it up, if someone is increasing their dosage of a prescription drug, it may be that they are experiencing tolerance or an underlying additional health problem, and not that they are addicted. But if someone cannot stop taking a drug or reduce their usage despite wanting to, and it is affecting major areas of their life, this is a sign of addiction.
How serious is the opioid problem?
Even a cursory glance at headlines today will confirm, opioid abuse is nearly epidemic—and it’s a killer.
Opiates can easily be abused (not taken as prescribed) however, and destructive opiate use can lead to a life of addiction, overdose, and death. In fact, a couple years ago for the first time, overdoses on prescription medications outnumbered overdoses on illegal drugs.
–Dr. Karl Benzio, Co-Founder and Chancellor, Honey Lake Clinic and Director of Excellence in Christian Psychiatry, Honey Lake Clinic
It’s important to recognize, abuse, dependence or addiction don’t happen in a vacuum. The path to recovery and wholeness involves getting to the root the problem.
To get at underlying hurt and bring lasting healing takes a holistic—spirit, mind and body—approach to addiction diagnosis, management and treatment.
Research continues to show us that spirituality positively influences addiction recovery in many ways. Still, the majority of programs out there refuse to look to God in the healing process.
At Honey Lake Clinic, our experienced doctors and staff strongly believe that faith-based treatment, encompassing spiritual, physical and mental health, will help clients and their families bring spiritual power and clearer psychological understanding to their healing and recovery.