Does Withdrawal Equal Addiction?


An article reviews that physical withdrawal symptoms may not be the same as psychological ones that can be addiction:

"The number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers has risen dramatically in the U.S. over the last several decades — nearly doubling for teens and young adults between 1994 and 2007 — and concerns about the abuse of these drugs are also growing. The trouble is that there is still much confusion, among doctors, patients — and journalists — about what "abuse" or "addiction" really means: how do you know when legitimate use of prescription painkillers has turned into a problem?
Most people tend to equate addiction with withdrawal. If a person becomes so dependent on a drug that stopping it causes physical symptoms of withdrawal, then he or she must be addicted, right? The Washington Post would say, yes. (More on Overeating: Is It an Addiction?)
An article titled "Addiction to Painkillers is a Growing Problem — How to Kick It," which ran on Sunday, tells the story of Nichole Marie Case, a woman who became physically dependent on opioids while being treated for back pain. When a pinched nerve in her spine caused severe and unremitting agony, Case was prescribed a cocktail of opioids, including hydrocodone and oxymorphone. She took them as prescribed for eight months, at which point she said her back started feeling better and she decided to stop the drugs abruptly, without telling her doctor."

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