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Opiate Dependency vs. Opiate Addiction

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Opiate Dependency vs. Opiate Addiction

Today the recent growth of prescription opioid painkillers has made opiate use far more domesticated and widespread than ever before. Even though heroin use has declined, the use of prescription opiates has increased. Over the last two decades, there has been a steady increase in the total number of opioid prescriptions. From 1991 to 2010 the number of opioid prescriptions increased sixfold, from 30 million to 180 million prescriptions. The use of prescription opiates for people who are dependent on the drugs for pain reduction has lead to an increase in abuse. When a family member or friend begins taking the drugs, not because they need them, but because they want the feeling, it becomes an addiction. Even though an addict is dependent on opiates, a person who is opiate-dependent is different because of the psychological, physical, and financial effects. An addict has very different psychological behaviors, than a person who is dependent. Addiction is in part linked to a person’s genetic makeup. That is, one’s genetic makeup may regulate how susceptible a person is to a substance and how easily one may become psychologically attached. An individual with an addiction to opiates acts differently because they are in constant search of opiates. This tends to lead them to act before thinking and do irrational things. The behavior is that of a person who is desperate and willing to do anything for the opiates. On the other hand an opiate-dependent person who takes the drug as prescribed; as a result there are no desperate behaviors. Being dependent on the opiates and not abusing them makes it so this person can still behave in a normal way, as they did before. The psychological feeling of an addict is very different than that of a person who is dependent. For example an addict is most likely searching for a psychological change or high, where as a dependent is only trying to manage pain by taking the opiates. In essence the opiate-dependent person is not searching for a high or psychological change like the addict. All of the behaviors that affect an individual also impact their interpersonal relationships. Dependent people still manage their interaction with friends and family in the same manner as before. This person does not need to hide what they are doing because it helps them function. By not having to be deceitful and dishonest, their friends and family interact with them normally. However people who are addicted have to hide their addiction from friends and family who do not approve of their behavior. This usually leads to the person finding friends who also are addicted, so that they can have friends and maintain some sort of social interaction. It is human nature for humans to socialize, and if an individual does not fit in one place they will find another. For an addict, the relationship with their family can be negatively impacted for a number of reasons. For instance, addicts begin to lie and avoid family putting strain on the relationships. The family loses trust in their loved one because of lying, stealing, and abuse. In contrast the vicious cycle of addiction leads an addict away from friends and family, to a circle of people who are addicts as well. The difference is that an opiate-dependent person maintains their relationships with the same group of family and friends. The use of opiates for a dependent person does not have a negative impact on interpersonal relationships. Clearly the reason for this is that they are not abusing the opiates causing them to lose control and destroy their relationships. The physical reasons for taking the drugs are usually the same: to get rid of pain. A person who receives a prescription for pain killers due to pain will eventually become dependent with continued use. Similarly an addict may have begun taking pain killers for pain, but after they were no longer needed they continued to use. Nonetheless withdrawal symptoms are the same in both cases. Early Withdrawal symptoms include yawning, increased tearing, insomnia, agitation, anxiety, restlessness, muscle aches, and hot/cold sweats. Late symptoms include abdominal cramping, diarrhea, dilated pupils, goose bumps, nausea, and vomiting. When people take pain killers after an emergency room visit, they may experience withdrawal symptoms, but since they do not crave the opiates they completely stop. Even though the symptoms are the same, the chemical imbalance in the brain is different, in either case. An opiate-dependent person does not have the inability to think clearly and adapt easily into a life without the opiates. When an addict is presented with the challenge of stopping the use of opiates, the brain needs it more than ever before. Even long after the withdrawal symptoms are gone; an addict must deal with post acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). The syndrome lasts from six to eighteen months after the last use. It has importance to the recovering addict’s ability to benefit from recovery, treatment, function effectively on the job, interact with family and friends, and regain emotional health. When a person becomes an addict or even dependent for a prolonged period of time, treatment is necessary. Though there are a variety of different ways that each person can be treated. Usually a person who is dependent is gradually taken off the opiates, by a process known as dose reduction. Subsequently a dependent person may also have some type of therapy to help alleviate the pain at the same time as the dose reduction. On the other hand for an addict, things are different because they must stop using the opiates all together. Today there are many medications such as methadone, suboxone, or subutex that doctors use to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal. Similarly the process of dose reduction is used in this case as well. Most addicts must also enter a program like in-patient or intensive out-patient rehab, where they must learn to cope with problems without the use of opiates. When addiction takes over someone’s life it also has a negative impact on their finances. Being an opiate addicted individual is very expensive. For a dependent person, they may pay a substantial amount of money, but have insurance which helps with the cost. In Addition a dependent person can maintain some type of employment. Which is just the opposite for an opiate addict, holding a job is usually hard and they result to things like stealing from others. Another downside would be the loss of productivity in their lives such as going to school or finding a career. From these differences it should be clear that opiate addiction and opiate dependency are not the same. There are certain things that are similar, but the overall psychological and treatment options are very different. People who have pain need opiates as a way to relieve the pain so they can function and lead a normal life. Addiction is a disease and affects not only that individual, but also everyone around them. It is much harder to get out of and learn how to function normally without opiates. There is a clear difference between an opiate addict and an opiate dependent person who actually needs what they are prescribed.…...

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