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 addiction."