When you hear of addiction what usually comes to your mind? There is the connotation of an individual who is dependent on an illegally obtained drug such as cocaine, marijuana, heroine or other narcotics. But the fact is that anybody can get addicted even on a legally prescribed medication. The difference is that narcotics has a much more potential to cause addiction because of their strong effect on the human body.  Addiction is totally different from drug dependence. Drug dependence occurs when the initial dose of a prescribed medicine is no longer effective or enough to treat a patient’s problem. The dose has to be continuously increased for it to work for the person. The person is said to be physically dependent on that medicine and if the medicine is suddenly stopped withdrawal symptoms will occur. The hallmark of addiction is the abnormal psychological and behavioral response that develops in some people with the use of the narcotics. When narcotics are used under proper medical supervision addiction rarely occurs. There should be no fear of addiction if your doctor and pharmacist are monitoring your properly prescribed narcotics to treat your severe pain. The class of drugs called Opioids such as morphine can be addicting, people who take them for a very long time may develop tolerance and physical dependence but this does not necessary mean that they are addicted. 

The medications that are in the group of Opioids are Morphine, Oxycodone, Demerol, hydrocodone, vicodin, dilaudid, hydromorphone, oxycontin. If you are on any of this medications you should use them only as directed by your doctor and pharmacist and don’t pass it on to anybody else including your family members.

Who are more at risk for addiction?

Most people who take their pain medicine as directed by their doctor do not become addicted, even if they take the medicine for a long time. However, some people may be at a higher risk of becoming addicted than others. People who have been addicted to substances in the past or those with a family member who is or has been addicted to drugs or alcohol may be at increased risk of becoming addicted to narcotics.

How to prevent addiction:

The key to avoiding addiction is to take your medicine exactly as your doctor prescribes. Share with your doctor any personal and/or family history of substance abuse or addiction. Your doctor needs this information to prescribe the medicines that will work best for you. Fears about addiction should not prevent you from using narcotics to effectively relieve your pain.
Remember, it is common for people to develop tolerance to their pain medication and to need higher doses to achieve the same level of pain relief. Such a situation is normal and is not a sign of addiction. However, you should speak to your doctor and pharmacist if this effect is becoming a problem for you.

Consequences of addiction:
The numbers are astonishing and scary to read.
Economic and health cost:  About $428 billion a year is spent on health care cost due to drug addiction. People with drug addiction have a much higher rate of physical and mental problems as well as a higher incidence of infection.
About 350 people die every year from drug addiction. The suicide rate is thirty times higher in drug addicts than in the general population.
Just reading this tells us that drug addiction is a serious problem in the society so every thing need to be done to at least reduce or even eliminate the problem.