Do I Need Inpatient Care If I Am Dependent on a Drug but Not Addicted?

Do I Need Inpatient Care If I Am Dependent on a Drug but Not Addicted?In cases of physical dependency on a drug, medically supervision is critical in order to detox safely. Since withdrawal symptoms of most drugs last anywhere from three to ten days, medically supervised detox is conducted in an inpatient setting.

The Difference between Addiction and Dependence

Contrary to popular belief, addiction is not synonymous with physical dependency. Addiction is a psychological phenomenon that involves compulsive destructive behavior in pursuit of a high. Physical dependency occurs when the body becomes accustomed to having a substance in its system and needs it to function normally. If the substance is absent the body will experience withdrawal symptoms, which is a sure sign of physical dependence.

Addiction can occur without physical dependence, as in cases of people who are addicted to behaviors such as gambling or sex, or to drugs such as marijuana that do not produce physical dependence. Also, dependence can occur without addiction. People who use prescription drugs under a doctor’s supervision may become dependent despite using the drug exactly as directed. This occurs frequently with opioid painkillers and sedatives for sleep disorders. Sedatives especially can produce dependence in a very short time even at therapeutic doses, which is why they are prescribed for short-term use only. Doctors are aware of the risk of dependence and weigh it against the possible benefits to the patient; a doctor may prescribe a medication despite the risk of dependence.

The Dangers of Withdrawal

Opioids and sedatives both produce withdrawal symptoms that may be dangerous. Sedatives in particular produce severe withdrawal symptoms that may be dangerous or even fatal. Opioid detox is usually not life threatening, but is miserable in the extreme, as it has been compared to the worst case of the flu. People often relapse just to end the misery.

A poorly conducted detox or quitting cold turkey greatly increases the chance of suffering withdrawal symptoms and will also increase their severity. The worst withdrawal symptoms and the most serious complications usually result from sudden or rapid detox; in the case of sedatives this may prove fatal or may leave the patient with lifelong complications such as a chronic seizure disorder.

Professional drug treatment specialists know how to detox patients safely to weaken withdrawal symptoms. Medical personnel will monitor the patient’s condition and address any complications that arise.

In an inpatient setting treatment professionals will design a gradual dose reduction schedule to minimize the severity of withdrawal symptoms as much as possible. In some cases withdrawal symptoms can be avoided completely. This gives patients a much better chance of successful detox.

Help Finding Inpatient Treatment

If you have become dependent on a drug as a result of medical use, you are not an addict. However, you are in need of professional care. Inpatient treatment offers your best hope of a safe and successful recovery from dependence. If you would like help finding inpatient treatment, call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to connect with professional resources.