Saturday, November 21, 2009

"Substance dependence"

"Substance dependence When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. This, along with Substance Abuse is considered Substance Use Disorders...
Terminology has become quite complicated in the field. Pharmacologists continue to speak of addiction from a physiologic standpoint (some call this a physical dependence); psychiatrists refer to the disease state as psychological dependence; most other physicians refer to the disease as addiction.
The medical community now makes a careful theoretical distinction between physical dependence (characterized by symptoms of withdrawal) and psychological dependence (or simply addiction). Addiction is now narrowly defined as "uncontrolled, compulsive use"; if there is no harm being suffered by, or damage done to, the patient or another party, then clinically it may be considered compulsive, but to the definition of some it is not categorized as 'addiction'. In practice, the two kinds of addiction are not always easy to distinguish. Addictions often have both physical and psychological components.
There is also a lesser known situation called pseudo-addiction. A patient will exhibit drug-seeking behavior reminiscent of psychological addiction, but they tend to have genuine pain or other symptoms that have been under-treated. Unlike true psychological addiction, these behaviors tend to stop when the pain is adequately treated. The obsolete term physical addiction is deprecated, because of its connotations. In modern pain management with opioids physical dependence is nearly universal. While opiates are essential in the treatment of acute pain, the benefit of this class of medication in chronic pain is not well proven. Clearly, there are those who would not function well without opiate treatment; on the other hand, many states are noting significant increases in non-intentional deaths related to opiate use High-quality, long-term studies are needed to better delineate the risks and benefits of chronic opiate use.
Physical dependency
Physical dependence on a substance is defined by the appearance of characteristic withdrawal symptoms when the substance is suddenly discontinued. Opiates, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, alcohol and nicotine induce physical dependence. On the other hand, some categories of substances share this property and are still not considered addictive: cortisone, beta blockers and most antidepressants are examples. So, while physical dependency can be a major factor in the psychology of addiction and most often becomes a primary motivator in the continuation of an addiction, the initial primary attribution of an addictive substance is usually its ability to induce pleasure, although with continued use the goal is not so much to induce pleasure as it is to relieve the anxiety caused by the absence of a given addictive substance, causing it to become used compulsively.
Some substances induce physical dependence or physiological tolerance - but not addiction - for example many laxatives, which are not psychoactive; nasal decongestants, which can cause rebound congestion if used for more than a few days in a row; and some antidepressants, most notably venlafaxine, paroxetine and sertraline, as they have quite short half-lives, so stopping them abruptly causes a more rapid change in the neurotransmitter balance in the brain than many other antidepressants. Many non-addictive prescription drugs should not be suddenly stopped, so a doctor should be consulted before abruptly discontinuing them.
The speed with which a given individual becomes addicted to various substances varies with the substance, the frequency of use, the means of ingestion, the intensity of pleasure or euphoria, and the individual's genetic and psychological susceptibility. Some people may exhibit alcoholic tendencies from the moment of first intoxication, while most people can drink socially without ever becoming addicted. Opioid dependent individuals have different responses to even low doses of opioids than the majority of people, although this may be due to a variety of other factors, as opioid use heavily stimulates pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters in the brain. Nonetheless, because of these variations, in addition to the adoption and twin studies that have been well replicated, much of the medical community is satisfied that addiction is in part genetically moderated. That is, one's genetic makeup may regulate how susceptible one is to a substance and how easily one may become psychologically attached to a pleasurable routine.
Eating disorders are complicated pathological mental illnesses and thus are not the same as addictions described in this article. Eating disorders, which some argue are not addictions at all, are driven by a multitude of factors, most of which are highly different than the factors behind addictions described in this article. It has been reported, however, that patients with eating disorders can successfully be treated with the same non-pharmacological protocols used in patients with chemical addiction disorders. Gambling is another potentially addictive behavior with some biological overlap. Conversely gambling urges have emerged with the administration of Mirapex (pramipexole), a dopamine agonist.
The DSM definition of addiction can be boiled down to compulsive use of a substance (or engagement in an activity) despite ongoing negative consequences—this is also a summary of what used to be called "psychological dependency." Physical dependence, on the other hand, simply needs a substance to function. Humans are all physically dependent on oxygen, food and water. A drug can cause physical dependence and not addiction (for example, some blood pressure medications, which can produce fatal withdrawal symptoms if not tapered) and can cause addiction without physical dependence (the withdrawal symptoms associated with cocaine are all psychological, there is no associated vomiting or diarrhea as there is with opioid withdrawal).
In the now outdated conceptualization of the problem, psychological dependency leads to psychological withdrawal symptoms (such as cravings, irritability, insomnia, depression, anorexia, etc). Addiction can in theory be derived from any rewarding behavior, and is believed to be strongly associated with the dopaminergic system of the brain's reward system (as in the case of cocaine and amphetamines). Some claim that it is a habitual means to avoid undesired activity, but typically it is only so to a clinical level in individuals who have emotional, social, or psychological dysfunctions (psychological addiction is defined as such), replacing normal positive stimuli not otherwise attained.
A person who is physically dependent, but not psychologically dependent can have their dose slowly dropped until they are no longer physically dependent. However, if that person is psychologically dependent, they are still at serious risk for relapse into abuse and subsequent physical dependence.
Psychological dependence does not have to be limited only to substances; even activities and behavioral patterns can be considered addictions, if they become uncontrollable, e.g. problem gambling, Internet addiction, computer addiction, sexual addiction / pornography addiction, overeating, self-injury, compulsive buying, or work addiction.

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