VANCOUVER, BC-Drug dependence is not physical dependence alone,
nor is it the same as drug tolerance. "Drug dependence is
primarily psychological dependence, or compulsive use of drugs
for their mood-altering effects and continued use despite harm,"
David E. Joranson, MSSW, said at the WHO workshop on cancer pain.
The WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recently clarified
that a cancer patient who has been receiving opioids for pain
and who stops the drug would go through a withdrawal syndrome
as evidence of physical dependence, but that individual is not
considered to be drug dependent.
"Physical dependence by itself is no longer sufficient to
define drug dependence or addiction," Mr. Joranson said.
"It is important for us to teach this and to clear up the
mythology about the relationship between opioid analgesia and