Opiate Dependence or Addiction?

Opiate Dependence or Addiction?

As we close out Recovery Awareness month (September) the need for recovery and addiction treatment persist. Unfortunately, a great deal of stigma remains. Many people complain of “being judged” when presenting prescriptions to pharmacist. This is known to happen when patients present prescriptions for opiates used for pain management and also when being treated with medically assisted therapy for Opiate addiction.

This “judgment” is unfortunate and aided by confusion between Opiate dependence and addiction. Dependence denotes the patient is requiring opiates and “dependent” on those opiates. It does not indicate the patient is “addicted”. Dependence indicates a physical component including the possibility of tolerance and withdrawal. Addiction is neurological and describes behavior. Addictive behaviors include: being unable to control drug use, destructive behaviors and cravings. Another confusing factor is that one can have addictive behavior without addiction and one may also have dependence without addiction.

What is not needed is judgment or misuse of terms that deter people from seeking treatment or obtaining prescriptions. Physicians treating patients with opiates monitor for signs of addictive behavior and monitor physical dependence and medication efficacy. It is not within the scope of practice for pharmacist or other non physicians to judge patients or fill prescriptions based solely on a diagnosis. Two different patients may have the same diagnosis but have very different clinical needs. It is the job and clinical assessment of physicians that should be the determining factor in a patient’s medication needs.

What physicians do need to account for is the availability of other means to treat pain and addiction. At our Opioid Treatment Center in Marietta, GA. We use acupuncture and physiotherapy to avoid the need for opiates. We also treat addiction with (Buprenorphine) in addition to counseling.

As recovery awareness month closes we should ALL remember to be nonjudgmental and use alternatives to opiates whenever possible. Here at Acupuncture and Injury, our goal is to have our patients “pain free without pillsTM.