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How do you know if you're addicted?
  1. #1
    GAJ518 is offline New Member
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    Default How do you know if you're addicted?

    Trying to make a long story short. I've had TMJ and headaches for well over 20 years. Actually, in that time, no problems at all with taking meds as needed. About 4 years ago, I realized that in addition to TMJ headaches, I was having migraines. Went to see a neurologist...none of the typical migraine meds really helped. He gave me vicodin as well, so I would have to take Imitrex, 2 vicodin, and 3 advil to knock out the headache. Still, no issues with addiction. 2-1/2 years ago, at 39, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to my nodes. I've had 7 surgeries to date, and have had various side effects from the cancer meds that I will be on for a few more years, as well as long-term side effects from the surgeries. There are days where I take a lot of pain pills (I'd say no more than maybe 5 or so at the most?), but I don't take them everyday. It really goes in spurts, but over the last year or so, I probably haven't gone more than 2 weeks without taking something...even if it's only one vicodin. To the best of my knowledge, I have never had any withdrawal symptoms, unless they were so mild that I just assumed it was a feeling of general crumminess, which is pretty much how I always feel since just before I was diagnosed with cancer. What qualifies as an addiction? My gut tells me it's more mental than physical at this point, so if that's the case, I want to make sure it doesn't become physical.

    I'd appreciate any advice on this.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Robert_325 is offline Retired
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    Quote Originally Posted by GAJ518 View Post
    Trying to make a long story short. I've had TMJ and headaches for well over 20 years. Actually, in that time, no problems at all with taking meds as needed. About 4 years ago, I realized that in addition to TMJ headaches, I was having migraines. Went to see a neurologist...none of the typical migraine meds really helped. He gave me vicodin as well, so I would have to take Imitrex, 2 vicodin, and 3 advil to knock out the headache. Still, no issues with addiction. 2-1/2 years ago, at 39, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to my nodes. I've had 7 surgeries to date, and have had various side effects from the cancer meds that I will be on for a few more years, as well as long-term side effects from the surgeries. There are days where I take a lot of pain pills (I'd say no more than maybe 5 or so at the most?), but I don't take them everyday. It really goes in spurts, but over the last year or so, I probably haven't gone more than 2 weeks without taking something...even if it's only one vicodin. To the best of my knowledge, I have never had any withdrawal symptoms, unless they were so mild that I just assumed it was a feeling of general crumminess, which is pretty much how I always feel since just before I was diagnosed with cancer. What qualifies as an addiction? My gut tells me it's more mental than physical at this point, so if that's the case, I want to make sure it doesn't become physical.

    I'd appreciate any advice on this.

    Thank you.


    With the ailments you've had you are doing great. You are not addicted to anything based on what you have said. You might have a dependency but not an addiction. Addiction causes us to engage in destructive behaviors harming ourselves and others. You really are doing well. I commend you for being able to control your use like you do. God bless.

  3. #3
    Psyched is offline Member
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    GAJ,
    As Robert said, you're doing really well as far as meds are concerned. It doesn't sound like you're addicted to me either because, as you said, you go days without taking anything. If you were addicted I'd say your body would be craving the meds a lot more often. Rest easy and God bless.

  4. #4
    musicman48 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by GAJ518 View Post
    Trying to make a long story short. I've had TMJ and headaches for well over 20 years. Actually, in that time, no problems at all with taking meds as needed. About 4 years ago, I realized that in addition to TMJ headaches, I was having migraines. Went to see a neurologist...none of the typical migraine meds really helped. He gave me vicodin as well, so I would have to take Imitrex, 2 vicodin, and 3 advil to knock out the headache. Still, no issues with addiction. 2-1/2 years ago, at 39, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, which had spread to my nodes. I've had 7 surgeries to date, and have had various side effects from the cancer meds that I will be on for a few more years, as well as long-term side effects from the surgeries. There are days where I take a lot of pain pills (I'd say no more than maybe 5 or so at the most?), but I don't take them everyday. It really goes in spurts, but over the last year or so, I probably haven't gone more than 2 weeks without taking something...even if it's only one vicodin. To the best of my knowledge, I have never had any withdrawal symptoms, unless they were so mild that I just assumed it was a feeling of general crumminess, which is pretty much how I always feel since just before I was diagnosed with cancer. What qualifies as an addiction? My gut tells me it's more mental than physical at this point, so if that's the case, I want to make sure it doesn't become physical.

    I'd appreciate any advice on this.

    Thank you.
    Wow,You are doing great.As Robert stated you may be dependent but that is a whole different thing from addiction..I doubt that you are even dependent..Trust me when you become addicted you will probably realize it.Some people kid themselves but you generally can tell when you are addicted......Especially when you are without your meds for a while.You should actually be commended for your ability to avoid addiction with the problems you have had.You do not seem to have addictive behavior .I am actually a little envious...haha ..I guess that is what its like to be normal...I really think you have nothing to worry about.God bless!

  5. #5
    GAJ518 is offline New Member
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    Thank you all for responding. I wish I could be as confident as you are. It's hard to think I don't have a problem when I'm sitting in a meeting at work, and all I could think about is getting home and taking a vicodin. I took 4 today. I don't know if I was clear in my first post that I'm not taking them for pain, generally. That's why I have been prescribed them, and *sometimes* I'm in pain, but I'm mostly taking them for the feeling it gives me...especially when I've had a bad day. I've been having a lot of problems with my arm from having my lymph nodes removed, and I take the pills to escape the fact that I will be like this for the rest of my life.

    I do agree with you all that I don't have a physical addiction, but I really fear I'm heading down that path. As someone said, I don't have an addictive personality, so I'm very surprised to find myself in this position. I suspect that going through cancer with 3 young children probably took its toll on me more than I'm willing to admit.

    I can say without question that I am abusing these drugs, and I don't know if I can stop before I become addicted.

  6. #6
    Robert_325 is offline Retired
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    Default Gaj

    Now you've provided additional information and answered your own question. If you are taking the meds only because they make you feel good then you need to knock it off before you do become addicted. Sounds more serious than what you first shared. We can only make suggestions based on what information is provided. I would stop this before it gets totally out of control. God bless.

  7. #7
    GAJ518 is offline New Member
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    Thanks, Robert. I wasn't being intentionally misleading. I do know that I definitely have a mental dependency. And I know that I need to stop before I become physically dependent. I know I can't overcome yet one more thing. I appreciate your directness.

  8. #8
    Robert_325 is offline Retired
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    Quote Originally Posted by GAJ518 View Post
    Thanks, Robert. I wasn't being intentionally misleading. I do know that I definitely have a mental dependency. And I know that I need to stop before I become physically dependent. I know I can't overcome yet one more thing. I appreciate your directness.


    I know that you weren't being intentionally deceiving or misleading. It's difficult to open up sometimes talking to people even when we are totally anonymous. But you are safe here and can pretty much say what is on your mind. One thing about me though is that I am always direct. I can even be direct to a point where some people get annoyed with me sometimes. God bless.

  9. #9
    casac123 is offline New Member
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    Default Seek Help

    I am currently in recovery from an addiction to pain medication, amongst other things. I also am a substance abuse counselor. Your best bet would be to contact a local outpatient treatment facility in your area and have a screening completed to see if you are indeed considered dependent or an abuse case only. As far as being dependent or addicted? They are the same in the recovery world. If you are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol; than you are an addict or alcoholic. I would seek help. Once your body becomes use to the opioids you will become very sick and possibly need to seek medical attention in order to get off of them. If you have any questions please let me know.

  10. #10
    Garrett22 is offline Member
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    Same here I only take the meds for my pain issues...Sadly alot of doctors do not know the diffferance.

  11. #11
    Garrett22 is offline Member
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    Wait a second just re-read the post and My mom has the same TMJ Headache issues...Causes cluster headaches also known as suicide headaches...And you prob know why.

  12. #12
    ARTIST658 is offline Platinum Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by casac123 View Post
    I am currently in recovery from an addiction to pain medication, amongst other things. I also am a substance abuse counselor. Your best bet would be to contact a local outpatient treatment facility in your area and have a screening completed to see if you are indeed considered dependent or an abuse case only. As far as being dependent or addicted? They are the same in the recovery world. If you are dependent on drugs and/or alcohol; than you are an addict or alcoholic. I would seek help. Once your body becomes use to the opioids you will become very sick and possibly need to seek medical attention in order to get off of them. If you have any questions please let me know.
    Hi casac,

    This thread was from 2 years ago (2008), so it's likely that the original poster has moved on.

    Nevertheless, your post was a bit alarming to me. As a substance abuse counselor, it should be one of the basic pieces of your education to know the difference between drug dependence and drug addiction. They certainly are not the same - in the recovery world or any other world.

    I work in the same field, and am employed by a long-term treatment center for substance abuse. I've been in recovery myself for most of the past 20 years. In our treatment center, we deal with addiction - NOT dependency. A person with a dependence on a substance may need help to detox off the drug - but does NOT need help with long-term recovery skills. The primary reason is that they are not as likely to relapse. They do not have the same mental obsession to use that an addict has. The term "drug addict" does not refer to folks who are only dependent upon a drug; it refers only to those with the actual disease of drug addiction.

    Addiction is another world entirely. For starters, most basic, are the obsessive thinking and compulsive actions that accompany drug addiction - and continue past abstinance. Drug addiction involves the biological action of a drug on brain reward and motivation systems.

    Here's a snippet of an article that better explains this:


    The terms drug dependence and drug addiction are often used interchangeably, but this practice leads to confusion among professionals regarding the diagnostic implications of these terms and also contributes to misunderstanding the underlying causes of substance use. Drug dependence refers to a state where the individual is dependent upon the drug for normal physiological functioning. Abstinence from the drug produces withdrawal reactions which constitute the only evidence for dependence. Drug addiction refers to a behavioral syndrome where the procurement and use of a drug seem to dominate the individual's motivation and where the normal constraints on the individual's behavior seem largely ineffective. Inherent in this definition is the overwhelmingly powerful motivation to obtain and self-administer the drug.

    I know it's difficult to explain the differences to non-professionals, but if you are working in this field, this not only pretty basic, but essential to indentify in a client.

    God bless,
    Ruth
    tllupton likes this.

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