Physical Dependence, Addiction, Abuse & Withdrawal

If you are using opioids as part of your pain management regimen, it is important to understand these terms.

Physical dependence means the body has become accustomed to the presence of opioids to the point where abrupt discontinuation of the drug would cause withdrawal. Withdrawal is a set of symptoms that occur as the body adjusts to the absence of the medication:

Early symptoms of withdrawal include:Man Drug Addiction Problem

  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle aches
  • Increased tearing
  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Yawning

Later symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Dilated pupils
  • Goose bumps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Addiction is different, and involves uncontrollable cravings of the opioid, the inability to control how much or how often the drug is used, compulsive use and use despite damage or harm coming to the user or others.

Abuse is a pattern of opioid use leading to significant impairment or distress, but where absence of physical dependence has been established.

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