Conditions and Treatments

Addiction Risk Factors

Although the chronic use of opioid/narcotic pain medications does produce physiologic changes that lead to a physical dependence, addiction in its true sense, is actually uncommon.  There are certain signs and patterns of opiate, alcohol, other drugs or nicotine use that do signal that a true addiction has developed.  There are also certain risk factors in one’s history that can be identified to help determine which individuals might be more likely to develop a true addiction.

Certain background events in one’s life, especially if more than one or a few are present, can correlate with a higher risk of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol.  A personal or family history of substance abuse, any history of preadolescent sexual abuse, age below 45, or history of psychological disorders such as ADD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar, schizophrenia, or depression all correlate with an increased risk of addiction to prescription pain medications.

True addiction, as opposed to simply a physical dependence, to a drug or alcohol, can be seen and found when certain behaviors are noted.  These include the four C’s of addiction: drug Craving; loss of Control; negative Consequences of use; and a Compulsion to use the drug or medication. An awareness of these negative opioid use/abuse indicators should spur an open discussion with the prescribing physician.

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