Drug addict vs. drug dependency?

What is the difference between a "drug addict," and someone who is dependent on medications for a condition? Fact or personal opinion is fine.

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  • 1 decade ago
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    An addict takes drugs in the absence of medical necessity....to obtain a high, to escape reality, etc. They abuse the drug, taking it without a prescription, and most generally, they aren't taking recommended dosages either! Their bodies tend to crave more and more to obtain the same results.

    Dependence is something that happens to people who take medications (for a REAL medical condition) over a period of time. Their body becomes used to a certain level of the drug being in their body (this does NOT have to be a narcotic based drug!), and when it is abruptly stopped, the body reacts in an adverse way (i.e. withdrawals). This can happen with a LOT of different medication.

    Dependence does NOT equal addiction. Most people who take prescribed medications take the recommended dosages, and also take them to lead, if not completely functional and productive, at least BEARABLE lives.

    Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, not all pain medication patients become addicts. Tolerance and dependence on a medication, as I said, can come from MANY different drugs. A diabetic is dependent on insulin to keep their glucose levels within a reasonable level....should patients who suffer with chronic and intractible pain have to suffer needlessly just because their may be some addiction potiential (less than 1% in patients with TRUE chronic pain)? Should their quality of life be diminished because of the stigma attached by the media and ignorant medical personnel? JMHO

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  • 1 decade ago

    Being dependent and or addicted still means the same thing. That without the drug you are dependent on or addicted to you will experience withdrawal if the drug is discontinued. I have a severe spine condition which will eventually put me in a chair. I have been dealing with it since '79. I have no choice but to take opioid pain meds in order to live in any kind of comfort at all. Yes I am dependent on these drugs and thus am also addicted. It isn't by my choice but non the less so. the person who said doctors don't like to prescribe pain meds to some as a small number will become addicted is wrong. If you are on an opioid for pain control for a month or longer you WILL be addicted.It is "people" who label others addicts, as those who are abusing drugs and have to have them and steal and what not to obtain them. I do not do this. I am still addicted to the pain meds prescibed to me. It does not affect my life in any other way. I do not obtain drugs from any other source. I still live my life in a normal manner. I can drive and shop and do anything anyone else can except live without pain.

    • lizzybluts6 years agoReport

      I agree with you that your body is addicted to the meds. As my physician explained to me, I am not a drug addict. Drug addicts are searching for a high, escape, mix drugs, etc. When u take it to be able to participate in life, it's different than getting high to escape or for the fun of it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    My opinion is that any time you take pain medications for a prolonged period of time, you will become dependent on them, and may need to increase the dosage at some point due to the dependency. This is because the meds change the amount of neuroreceptors and you can't just stop taking them without slowly decreasing the dosage. I have experienced this firsthand. I take lots of ibuprofen and the occasional ultracet for my horrible menstrual cramps, which last at least 3 days. Afterword, if I just stop taking ibuprofen I get headaches and body aches, so I have to take a little bit the next day before stopping.

    Addiction, on the other hand, is when pursuit of the drug becomes all-encompassing. When people forge prescriptions, go to multiple pharmacies, find doctors who will write prescriptions no questions asked, take huge doses, crush up tablets or bite patches to get high, steal money to buy the drugs, steal the drugs, or buy the drugs on the black market, it's an addiction. Drug addicted people are often willing to lose their friends, family, goals and dreams if it means they can keep abusing their drugs.

    Unfortunately a lot of people confuse addiction with dependence. There are some doctors and nurses who are reluctant to give morphine to a dying man because he might get addicted. And lots of doctors are reluctant to give pain meds to people with painful conditions, because a small number of people will get addicted, and a small number of people might fake pain to get drugs.

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  • 1 decade ago

    The whole concept of "addiction" is more controversial than it sounds. Is there a difference between really liking something, and being addicted to it? The chemical and the mental side of a person is linked very tightly. Hormones are chemicals which can affect our mood ... and our mood can cause us to release more of certain hormones.

    Heroin is often used as an example of physical addiction, however I suspect the psychological reasons that made the addict start using heroin are stronger. An example which is often used is that after Vietnam, the majority of soldiers who become heroin addicts, immediately kicked their addiction.

    In my own view, there is no difference between a rabid sports fan, an enthusiastic Trekkie, a smoker, a heroin addict and a person who is asking their doctor for constant Xanax refills. It's all shades of grey.

    I think the important thing is to look at how it affects your life. In some countries they provide safe-houses to shoot up in, and it seems to me, that one of the worst thing about being classed "an addict" is the stigma, which prevents a person from interacting with normal people. If one can carry on with life, like Sherlock Holmes, and take heroin, than I don't see the problem. On the other hand, if one isn't considered an addict, just because one is taking huge amounts of aspirin instead of an illegal drug, but their liver starts to fail ... they need to take action.

    At the end of the day, "addiction" is just a word we came up with to try and neatly package human behavior. A thorn by any other name would cut as deep.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Someone who is dependent on drugs for example medication for a heart condtion, has to take the drugs, whereas a drug addict is someone whos bodies crave the drug.

    But it depends on the dependancy, if its fpr pain killers, they are addictive in some cases and its the same as a drug addict.

    You would have to find out the reason why the person who is a drug dependent is on the drug and how long they have been on it, and if the medication has an addictive additive in it.

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  • 1 decade ago

    drug dependent for a condition is someone who is required to take medicine to live or to have a bearable life. Such as people with diabetes who rely on insulin to live or bipolar people taking their meds to make life more "normal".

    A drug addict is someone who is dependent on a drug that they either dont need, are taking too much, are hurting their body by taking the drugs, are hurting the people who care about them by taking the drugs, in most cases the drug has control of the person instead of the other way around, etc.

    prime example --> heroin addict

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  • 1 decade ago

    In my view, an addict will participate in self destructive behavior. My father is addicted to alcohol, and has been for as long as I have been alive. He will drink until his liver and kidneys shut down. He has been in detox at least 10 times, and the kicker is he used to be a medical doctor but lost that, as well. Someone who is dependant on medications is someone who cannot function without that medication, such as someone who needs blood pressure pills, or even pills like anti depressants. It is indeed a fine line as doctors are writing scrips more freely these days due to pressures from the drug administration and drug companies. I know if I don't take my thyroid medicine i get a blinding headache and cold sweats... my body cannot function without it. While my father cannot function without booze, it is indeed different.

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  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia 20 years ago. The reason I was seeing a Rheumatologist and being tested for illness is because I had been pain and bed ridden for 2 years. After months and months of trying to find a way to bring me out of pain and sickness enough to be functional, my Sister found a Fibromyalgia Specialist. He said, of taking ibuprofen or Tylenol for Fibromyalgia, "I shouldn't send in a boy to do a man's job" and thus prescribed an opioid medication. It was so wonderful to be rid of that constant misery, I could do things again.

    Twenty years later, these years that would have been spent suffering and bed ridden; instead I have been active in Scouts, I work in a Genealogy Library and teach a class of pre-schoolers Reading Readiness. All thanks to opioid paid medication. I believe myself to be dependent on my opoid, but I live within the rules: I take my medicine as needed and as prescribed.

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  • 1 decade ago

    An addict is a person who has created a physiological dependence on a chemical of some type. The chemical substance useually creates some non-medically necessary reactions in the person ( a high) Without the chemical, the person experiences withdrawl.

    A person dependent on a medication means that the medication is intended to recreate a "normal" physiologic functioning of the body and is usually without and euphoric side effects (ex: people take thyroid medication to replace a hormone that is low functioning or not functioning.

    they need proper levels to have appropriate metabolism and mental function. Taking the medication restores them to "normal" but the taker experiences otherwise no "high"

    Source(s): I take synthroid because I'm told my natural thyroid levels are low. If I don't take it for a month, I feel cold and sleepy all the time, but I don't have wthdrawl symptoms.
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  • 1 decade ago

    To me, I think there is a difference. I think no matter what is wrong with you, if you take more pills then reccomended, or meds or drugs that are not recomended, then you are an addict. But say you have a serious condition, and you take pain meds for it, even if you take them as prescribed, chances are if you take them for a long period of time your body will become dependent on them. So basically, an addiction is, at least to me, something you do to yourself. Dependency is something that happens as a result of taking a medication.

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