A very kind person responded to my “What on Earth is CRPS?” blog to discuss the words addiction, dependence, and tolerance. To continue this discussion, I decided to just turn it to a blog itself. I trust she does not mind my quoting her to begin this blog. I think it very informative!
Thank you for sharing, and getting the word out about this syndrome. I wanted to discuss three words. The words are addiction, dependence, and tolerance. Individuals become addicted to narcotics, when they are using the medication to get a sensation, or high. However, as long as your body needs the medicine to control the chronic pain, you will not become addicted to the medication. Tolerance occurs, when you need a higher dosage of medication, to maintain the same level of relief. Over time, some individuals have to have their medication increased, but this does not happen with all patients. Finally, dependence occurs, when one is dependent upon medication to help to control the pain. That is the antithesis of addiction. When someone becomes addicted to medication, they are using it when they do not need to use it. When you are dependent upon medication, you do not become addicted to the medication, because the medication is working to control your pain. For example, if I was taking medication for chronic pain, I would be dependent on the medication, to control my pain. However, if the pain left today, I could flush the medication down the toilet, because I would no longer need it. I would not become addicted.
Thanks so much for your kind words and explanation. Having worked all of my adult life in the medical field (most of it in or relating to surgery), I still am not an expert! As humans, we all can suffer from addiction, tolerance and dependence. I can only speak from personal experience and a shallow medical understanding.
I have developed an addiction to the pain medications I am taking and had to break the craving because of the chemical dependence developed by using a narcotic. I know of individuals who have a narcotic addiction – and are in very responsible positions. Their problem narcotic: heroin. Yet, they now only use enough heroin to keep the addiction at bay without going for the high. They developed a chemical tolerance to and dependence on the drug but are not willing to pay the price necessary to break the addiction. Yet, most can never take the substance again once they have broken the chemical dependence. Alcoholics Anonymous tell us that once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; so they encourage those who use their program for quitting a bad addiction to never pick it up again. I personally do not know if it is a mental tool or is a proven chemical response/reaction from which they suffer if they ever use the substance again. There is some pretty deep chemistry involved with it. I understand that once those who abused the substance start “using” again, they usually lose control and fall into the same troubles as before.
To say there is a disagreement between you and I would be very inaccurate, however. The broad base of our common language allows so much to be covered with terminology. From a psychological standpoint I must totally support your discussion. From a chemistry standpoint, I search for better understanding. My questioning comes from having witnessed a chronic pain patient going over the deep end. He could not legally acquire enough medication to relieve or lighten his pain due to tolerance. As if the chronic pain was not enough of a problem, he had to add to it some jail time! I do not want to follow that road nor do I wish to be in the position to try to explain why from a personal experience!
One thing I do know – the suffering with or without medication is horrendous for me. Thank God he provided me with such a wonderful lady to spend my life. Kind, understanding, helpful…I cannot say enough praise for her. The old folks used the term “Help-meet” and I think it fits very appropriately. God provides me strength to live and sometimes that strength is leaning on the one God provided for my companionship: my spouse. She has been my sweetheart since high school and I want no other! Ultimately, you see, it is God upon whom I lean.
A coach will say that a win is a win. Some of my “wins” in dealing with this pain are not so pretty, but they are wins, thank God! Some people are born to a life in multi-million dollar homes while others get the dirt floor and thatch roof. Still their character can be the same and both be gracious in their life and living! My part in life is to bear the pain for the moment while others have no clue as to what suffering really is. I am one of those supposedly crazy people who believe that God can still actually and instantaneously heal from physical, emotional and spiritual maladies. From that knowledge, I want God to heal me, but if he can receive glory from my sufferinig, I want him to receive it! At least I am not suffering in a prison in China for sharing the Gospel as many have. God can make the best of any situation, so he can make the best of mine. I need to go deeper in explaining this line of reasoning, but we will save that for another day! Watch for it!
Oh, I almost forgot to tell others that you can read all Paulette had to say in the comment on the “What on Earth is CRPS?” blog. Paulette is a blogger and I would encourage you to check it out! It is at http://pbus1.wordpress.com/ and makes my humble mutterings look even smaller… I just gotta follow her blog now. It is a “wowser.”