Indicators of Opioid Dependency

What is the difference between drug tolerance, dependence, and addiction?

Tolerance and dependence occurs when taking an opioid or any substance over a long period of time. Due to the continued use, an individual’s body functions begin to change because of the substance. These changes then cause an individual to have withdrawal symptoms when no longer using the substance. Someone can be tolerant to, or dependent on, a substance and not be addicted to it.

Brain Disease Model of Addiction

Despite decades of public misinterpretation of substance use disorder being viewed as a sign of moral weakness or a unwillingness to exert self-control; physical and behavioral health professionals have brought to light the common neurobiological patterns that underlie chemical and behavioral addictions. The stigmatization of those suffering from chemical dependency is still prevalent among those who have unscientific, shaming beliefs about substance use and unfairly minimize the challenge of overcoming this illness. Similar to other chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease; addiction is also classified as a chronic disease, but is perceived in a different manner.

For those chemically dependent individuals may experience:

  1. Craving for the substance;
  2. Loss of control over its use; and
  3. Desire to continue using despite adverse consequences.

Supporting Resources