If you have pain, you want to relieve it the best you can, as quickly as you can. If it’s chronic pain, you may have even less patience. But as tempting as pain relief is, you might find yourself thinking about the consequences of taking or not taking the drug. A dose may make the pain bearable or wipe it away completely, but if you continue to use the medication, will you get hooked? When does pain management turn into drug addiction?
The StagesTelling the difference between pain management and addiction is difficult. You may think that you’re just treating symptoms, but you might be feeding your addiction. But it’s not always one or the other. There are stages in between that include:
- Tolerance. Occurs when a person needs a higher dose of a drug to achieve the same level of relief. Dosages may be adjusted as pain level varies, but tolerance also occurs among addicts.
- Dependence. If the drug is stopped, withdrawal symptoms will occur.People taking opiates as prescribed can become dependent on them.
- Pseudo-addiction. Occurs when a patient needs more pain relief and his or her behavior mimics that of a drug addict—requesting higher doses and getting frustrated with doctors.