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Addiction is a disease that can be treated, but cannot be cured.

Definition of Addiction

A pathological relationship with a substance (could be prescription pain medication) that has a mood altering effect and life damaging consequences.

Breaking the definition down

Pathological Relationship

A pathological relationship is a sick or unhealthy relationship consisting of two critical components; obsession and compulsion.

Obsession The addicted person obsesses or thinks about taking the substance (their medication) continuously. It doesn’t stop.
Compulsion The addicted person has an irresistible impulse to perform an irrational act.

Example: Taking your medication as directed would be a rational act, but taking double or triple the amount that was prescribed or taking the medication every one or two hours instead of every four or six hours as directed (or both) would be an irrational act.

Mood Altering Effect

The mood altering effect is the desired affect. Many people believe that a person can only become addicted to medication if the medication causes the person to experience a euphoric affect. That is not true. People can become addicted to medication that causes a person to experience a euphoric affect, but the desired affect does not have to be euphoria, it could be any affect that gives a person satisfaction, contentment, or possibly the ability to deal with stress.

For some addicts, it is simply feeling “anything” in an otherwise hollow-feeling life.

Life Damaging Consequences

Once the permanent neurological change takes place, it requires a permanent change in the addict to be able to maintain a successful recovery for the rest of their life.

Alcoholics Anonymous uses the analogy "the CAKE is baked". Once the batter is heated and becomes cake, it can never become batter again.