dependence vs addiction

Discussion 2: Dependence vs. Addiction

The distinction between physical dependence and addiction is particularly important in opiate use. Physical dependence is a physiologic response that develops after use of a drug such as an opiate for pain relief. Physical dependence produces physical withdrawal when use of the drug stops abruptly. In contrast, addiction can include physical dependence, but also includes other behaviors such as drug-seeking,and taking the drug in higher amounts (and for a longer time than prescribed).

As a future health psychology professional, how might you take into consideration all these factors in consulting with a chronic pain patient who is concerned about becoming “addicted” to opiates?

Post by Day 4 a sample script you might use with a chronic pain patient that addresses these concerns. Explain the difference between physical dependence and addiction in a manner that is accessible and relatable to the individual. This individual truly needs to be on opiates in order to effectively manage his or her pain, so your goal is to educate them on how to have the best quality of life.



  • Julien, R. M., Advokat, C. D., & Comaty, J. E. (2014). Julien’s primer of drug action: A comprehensive guide to the actions, uses, and side effects of psychoactive drugs (13th ed.). New York, NY: Worth Publishers/Macmillan.
    • Chapter 8, “Psychedelic Drugs” (pp. 237–266)
    • Chapter 10, “Opioid Analgesics” (pp. 297–334)
  • McKim, W. A., & Hancock, S. D. (2012). Drugs and behavior: An introduction to behavioral pharmacology (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
    • Chapter 11, “Opioids” (pp. 254–276)
    • Chapter 15, “Hallucinogens, Phantasticants, and Club Drugs” (pp. 332–349)
  • Koob, G. F., & Volkow, N. D. (2010). Neurocircuitry of addiction. Neuropsychopharmacology: Official Publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 35(1), 217–238.
    Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). Drugs of abuse.Retrieved from
  • U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2012, June). Drug fact sheets. Retrieved from