Tag Archives: dependence

Pain Medication: Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

tolerance, dependence, and addiction

Overuse and abuse of pain medications continue to be major issues in the US. People who are prescribed pain medication for injuries or illnesses can develop a tolerance, dependence, and addiction to those drugs. While medications can help you deal with pain, they are not a cure and are designed only to guide you through a specific recovery period. Tolerance, dependence, and addiction happen when the pain medication is misused or overused.

Overdoses

Taking too much of a prescription medication or an illegally obtained pain medication can lead to an overdose. In 2018, more than 67,300 people in the US died from drug-involved overdoses. Death rates from opioid-involved overdoses rose from 21,088 in 2010 to 46,802 in 2018. Death rates from prescription opioid overdoses rose from 3,442 in 1999 to 14,975 in 2018.

Understanding Tolerance, Dependence, and Addiction

There is a difference between tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance means that you continuously need higher doses of the pain medication to achieve the same effect as when you first began taking it. Your body develops a tolerance to the effects of the pain medication and doesn’t respond as well unless you continue to take more. This can also lead to an overdose.

When you are dependent on a drug, it means that if you don’t have it your body will go through withdrawal. You can experience physical and mental symptoms in withdrawal. Some of these symptoms may be mild – for example, if you decide to give up caffeine, you may experience some level of discomfort. However, others can have life threatening consequences, such as would be the case if you stop using a prescription pain reliever without professional supervision.

Many people who take a prescription medicine every day over a long period of time can become dependent; when they go off the drug, they need to do it gradually, to avoid withdrawal discomfort. Dependence typically happens when you use a drug long-term (six months or longer) to manage pain associated with a medical condition. Your body builds up a tolerance to the pain medication and then you become dependent on it to maintain the same level of effectiveness.

Addiction is a chronic, treatable disease. When you continue to use a pain medication and do not feel as though you can stop despite any negative consequences you may be facing, you have an addiction. You can be dependent or have a tolerance for a drug and not necessarily be addicted.

Addiction can have devastating, life-long consequences if not properly treated. Also known as a substance use disorder, addiction results in compulsive behaviors as well as an inability to control the use of the pain medication. Although addiction and dependence are different, when you are addicted to opioids, you are also typically dependent on them.

Addictive Pain Medications

According to Dr. Karsten Kueppenbender, an addiction psychiatrist at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, “ninety-seven percent of patients don’t have a problem with opioids.” However, there are pain medications that can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction.

Opioids decrease the perception of pain and create a feeling of euphoria for some people, especially those who take the pain medication even though they are not actually in pain. Opioids are typically used for the short term, to treat severe pain following surgery. They may also be used for some long-term pain, such as pain related to cancer and terminal illness.

Opioids are a family of drugs that include:

  • Codeine
  • Fentanyl (including brand name Duragesic)
  • Oxycodone (including brand name OxyContin, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox, and Roxicet)
  • Morphine (including brand name MS Contin)
  • Meperidine (including brand name Demerol)
  • Hydrocodone (including brand name Vicodin and Lortab)
  • Hydromorphone (including brand name Dilaudid)

At Risk for Addiction

Even though some people can safely take pain medications that are properly prescribed by their physician without developing a tolerance, dependence, or addiction, there are factors that can predict your vulnerability to becoming addicted to pain medication, including:

  • Family history of problem substance use
  • Misuse of other substances
  • Other risky behaviors (such as problem gambling)
  • Past history of problem substance use

Additionally, undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues, such as depression, can predict an eventual reliance on substances for self-medicating tendencies that, in turn, only make the issue worse.

Contact PACE for Comprehensive Addiction Treatment

At PACE Recovery, we’ve helped hundreds of men enter into a life of recovery from opiate addiction through a combination of traditional and alternative therapeutic methods. If you are in the downward spiral of a pain medication addiction, contact PACE today to begin your life-changing journey. You can reach our highly trained staff at any time by calling 800-526-1851 to learn more about our programs, admission, insurances accepted, and availability.

Addiction Treatment Begins With Surrender

addiction

There are many young men and women whose addiction has reached untenable heights. Perhaps “lows” would be more apt. Either way, when one begins down the perilous path of substance use, abuse and addiction in their teens, then by their early or mid-twenties life has already become unmanageable. If you are one such person who can identify with that path, trust and believe that it is far more common than you might think.

Societal tropes and stereotypes of addicts and alcoholics in recovery often resemble middle-aged and older people. While it is true that many do not decide to work a program of recovery until later in life, most such people would probably tell that they were definitely eligible for the need of assistance for years—if not decades earlier. Every case is different, but a significant number of people have fought and will continue to fight tooth and nail to remain in a state of denial about the severity of their condition. Even though alcohol and substance use disorders are an accepted form of mental illness.

Nobody, addict or not, wants to admit defeat. In some ways, we are programmed at an early age to continue fighting even if we know that a fight is unwinnable. While perseverance may be a sign of strength in a clearly unwinnable high school sports game given that there is no certainty that it will end the way everyone thinks, when it comes to active addiction perseverance can and often does mean premature death. Often after years of heartache and despair.

The Comparison Problem With Addiction

It cannot be stressed enough. The longer an alcoholic or addict waits to seek help, the worse it gets. Always! The problems that accompany substance abuse may be solely superficial at first, but over time the persistent fueling of the fire of addiction leads to systemic health problems—many of which cannot be reversed (e.g. cirrhosis, cancer, cognitive dysfunction and co-occurring mental health disorders).

There is a common delusion among chemically dependent people that their problem is not as bad as ‘that person’s’. That It won’t get as bad, because you are somehow unique. You may be special in many ways, but when it comes to addiction, comparisons will only pave the road to becoming as worse off as the very people you compared to yourself to keep you from surrendering. The “comparison problem,” if we may, is especially pervasive among young people. It is a barrier to hope and serenity, two feelings that people living with active addiction are in short supply.

Has your use of drugs or alcohol brought about a series of negative consequences before, or in early adulthood? If your answer is yes, then we implore you to stop comparing yourself to your peers and seek assistance. It may be that your friends and family have a problem too, but you are in no position to help them until you help yourself.

Strength in Surrender

Dependence and addiction touch the lives of young people quite often. The good news is that many young men and women can, and do recover. What’s more, they can go on to live productive and fulfilling lives with a clear head on their shoulders, developing a meaningful relationship in both their program of recovery and society at large. And they have the power to be there for their peers when life throws curveballs. All such people, started with the courageous act of surrender.

Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage,” wrote William S. Burroughs.

Accepting that your own will is not acting in your best interest, allows you to start the process of first seeking treatment followed by continued growth in recovery. It gives one the ability to accept help from others who have been down into the dark cave of addiction, and returned to the light via a program of recovery. It is hard to admit to oneself, “I don’t have all the answers.” But it is of the utmost importance.

At PACE Recovery Center, we work with young adult men who have been touch by the hand of addiction. The PACE Recovery Center team is made up of addiction treatment professionals, many of which have first-hand experience with addiction. We know the courage it takes to ask for help and break the cycle of this pernicious disease, and embrace the principles of a wholly new way of thinking and living. Please contact us today.

The Use of Marijuana Has Doubled

marijuanaAs the country becomes more accepting of marijuana use, with states voting in favor of medical marijuana and recreational use, it stands to reason that more people are using the drug. Historically, research involving marijuana was limited; however, in recent years there have been a number of studies conducted on the drug. The latest study involving marijuana has found that marijuana use has doubled since 2001, with nearly 10 percent of American adults reporting use in 2013, the Oregonian reports. With the increase of use, dependence and addiction follows in its wake.

“While many in the United States think prohibition of recreational marijuana should be ended, this study and others suggest caution and the need for public education about the potential harms in marijuana use, including the risk for addiction,” the report stated.

The research showed that the percentage of people reporting marijuana dependence or abuse doubled. In 2001, only 1.5 percent reported marijuana addiction, compared to nearly 3 percent in 2013, according to the article. Researchers found that 3 out of every 10 people (nearly 7 million Americans) have a marijuana abuse or addiction problem.

In the U.S., 23 states have adopted medical marijuana programs and four states have passed recreational use laws. More states are expected to follow suit, and people’s perception of the drug is likely to become more relaxed. However, it is important that teenage exposure to marijuana is limited; studies show that the drug can have an impact on developing brains, the article reports.

The report highlights potential problems that can arise from marijuana use, including:

  • Addiction
  • Cognitive Decline
  • Injuries
  • Psychiatric Symptoms
  • Psychosocial Impairments
  • Poor Quality of Life
  • Use of Other Drugs
  • Vehicle Crashes

The findings were published in JAMA Psychiatry.
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If you are or a loved one is abusing marijuana, please contact Pace Recovery Center.

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