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What is an addict?

by Sandra
(Massachusetts)

If you have chronic pain from an injury and you are prescribed an opiate, you take them the way it is prescribed, you don't up the dose, and were told to learn to live knowing you have to take them the rest of your life, does that make you a drug addict?

Comments for What is an addict?

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The short answer is no.
by: Debbie Wicker

Dear Sandra,

Addiction is defined as a disease of the brain, where tolerance is developed and it takes more and more of the drug to receive the same effect.

If a person takes an opiate as prescribed by a doctor and DOES NOT keep taking more and more(or increasing the dosage), then they are not drug addicted. Opiates are very therapeutically useful to manage chronic pain and if that is what they are used for then addiction usually does not occur.

But, opiates are extremely addictive and many, many people are prescribed an opiate and then begin to use more and more. They also begin to do what is called "doctor shop", meaning they find a doctor willing to continually increase the dosage of their opiate and they do become addicted.

There an some unethical doctors who will prescribe opiates irresponsibly and can assist a person in becoming opiate addicted.

So then the question becomes, what if a need a higher dosage to manage my pain? This is a difficult question and one that many have struggled with.

If a higher and higher dosage is continually needed to manage the pain then opiate addiction will likely occur. That's why it is SO critical to find a reputable, ethical pain management doctor and to listen to other alternatives to opiates for pain management if increased dosages are needed.

Hope that helps,

Debbie

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