You must have seen some people abusing drugs and thought to yourself why they just cannot quit drugs. It is easy to presume that you need only strong willpower and good intentions to stop taking drugs. The actual fact is that drug addiction is a very complex disease and it takes much more than just willpower to be cured. Firstly, you must understand that there is a fine line between drug addiction and dependency on drugs.
Dependence on drugs
Opioids are complex compounds which resemble opium in terms of addictive properties along with physiological effects. When you are dependent on opioids, your body starts depending on opioids in order to prevent withdrawal. It is easy to predict physical dependence and it is manageable with medication. The doctor can resolve physical dependence on drugs with slowly cutting on the dose of opioids. Normally, our body can produce sufficient endogenous opioids like endorphins in order to prevent withdrawal.
But, as the condition of tolerance increases, it becomes difficult for the body to maintain equilibrium and we become dependent on opioids from external sources. There are some common substances like nicotine, caffeine, anti-depressants, and sugar; which make us dependent on them to function normally. It is normal to see physical dependence on drugs. In fact, it is just a distraction from the actual problem-addiction.
Now, let us move on to understand addiction and understand the difference between the two.
Addiction of drugs
Unlike dependence on drugs, addiction is classified in the category of diseases. Some of the common symptoms of addiction include inability to control the use of drugs, uncontrollable cravings, compulsive use of drugs, or harming oneself and others to abuse drugs. When you are addicted to a drug, you find yourself craving uncontrollably for something or the other and you might even notice destructive behaviors yourself due to addiction. These cravings happen because of alteration in the biology of brain. When you are in the process of recovery, the therapist attempts to reverse the changed biology of your brain. Addiction is also called substance dependence, opioid dependence, opioid use disorder. It is also called dependence which confuses people.
Why there is confusion between dependence and addition?
You might get addicted to some drugs without being physically dependent on them. for example, methamphetamine or cocaine have hardly any withdrawal syndrome that are apparent, but if you are addicted to any of them, it may destroy your lives. Also, you might be addicted to sex, internet or gambling; which also do not have any physical dependence. The common thing between all these addictions is that you crave for them unnaturally which prompt compulsive behavior.
Another major fact is that you can be dependent on any of the drugs without being addicted to them. For instance, you might have seen patients who experience chronic pain. They take their prescribed medication containing opioids, but do not show any uncontrollable compulsion or failure of control. If you feel the desire to keep away from withdrawal, it is not addiction.