What is the difference between physical dependence and addiction?
Physical dependence is a result of your body becoming dependent on a medication (or substance), where slowly tapering off the substance is necessary to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is entirely different than physical dependence. Addiction is an emotional dependence of a substance, where the addicted person will abuse a substance, regardless of the consequences, for a non-medical purpose. For example, if your doctor prescribed Lortab to you for acute or chronic pain, and you take that medication for several months (such as 4 tablets per day), your body would become physically dependent. Therefore, to avoid withdrawal symptoms, your physician would gradually reduce the amount of tablets you take per day until you completely discontinue the medication. Addiction on the other hand, could go something like this: The same doctor prescribes the Lortab to you for the same reason. You find you enjoy the way the medication makes you feel (euphoric/mind-altering), which has nothing to do with the pain relief it provides you. So you start taking more than four tablets per day and eventually run out of pills before your next allowed refill. You then start telling your doctor your pain is still severe, and that you need more pills. However, your original pain has already disappeared. But you keep taking the medication because maybe it puts you in a better mood, or helps you deal with stress better, etc. Basically, you start abusing the narcotic, Lortab (hydrocodone) for non-medical related reasons, but emotional ones. This could be a sign of “addiction.” Physical dependence is physical; Addiction is emotional/psychological. I am so glad you asked this question because so much of society does not understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction. But there IS DEFINITELY A DIFFERENCE. If you have any further questions, you can contact me via my personal 360 page at http://360.yahoo.com/purpletiger357 .