Episode 472: Opioid Crisis Part 1

One comment on “Episode 472: Opioid Crisis Part 1

  1. Timothy Schaffer says:

    Re: Ep 472 and dependence vs addiction.

    There is indeed a big difference between drug dependence and drug addiction. A person is dependent on opioids if they us it solely to manage pain but stopping the opioid will cause withdrawal symptoms. A person is addicted to opioids if they use it compulsively for the high. That is a big difference.

    The corporate opioid pushers used mischaracterization to behind this very real distinction.

    One of my coworkers (who has not given permission to be identified) basically broke his body in a helicopter accident in the Army a couple of decades ago. After surgeons put him back together as well as could be expected (and better than was feared) he was in constant pain and opioids turned out to be the only effective tool to manage it. About a year ago, however, the VA cut off his opioid prescription as a result of administrators reacting to bad publicity over the opioid crisis. Those administrators either did not appreciate the difference between dependence and addiction or did not care. He went from being one of the sharpest, wittiest, and most positive persons I’ve ever known, to being a wan, drawn, and silent shell of his former self. He will retire when his 100% disability ruling comes through, but we have already lost the advantage of his keen insight and vast institutional knowledge. Dealing with the pain is too exhausting for him to effectively focus on anything else. (Granted, this is an anecdote rather than evidence, but it is illustrative of both the distinction and the consequences of failing understand it.)

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