Friday, May 11, 2012

PHARMACY FRIDAY - Addicted or Dependent... There IS a difference!

This isn't really a post about natural remedies or anything like that, but it is some interesting information I would like to share. In a day and time where many of us are trying so hard to turn away from chemical medications as much as possible, and turn more towards natural healing, information like this can be pretty helpful at times.

Over the years I have been on a variety of medications (unfortunately). Back when I was 21, when I first went on heart medication, the doctor told me that whatever I did, "Don't quit taking it cold turkey. It is a dependency drug. Stopping it abruptly can seriously damage your heart."  I mistakenly took him to mean it was an addictive drug.

Over the years, from time to time, I was put on various medications that were classified as "dependency" drugs. The doctor assured me it was NOT an addictive drug. Friends and family would insist that "dependency" was just a doctor's nice word for 'addiction' to keep themselves out of trouble. So one time I asked one of my better doctors what the difference (if any) was and he explained it to me very clearly. Of course, I had to back it up with some deeper research. Here is what I learned. Keep in mind that here, in this post, I am talking about prescription medications... not illegal drugs, gambling, video games, alcohol, etc.:

DEPENDENCY: Drug dependency is when the BODY has become so adapted to a drug/medication, that when the drug is no longer put into the body, it can lead to withdrawals and/or organ damage. HERE is one good explanation. The medication does not cross through the blood-brain barrier, but the body becomes so used to running on it, that to suddenly quit taking it will often cause withdrawals and even major organ damage. Your mind doesn't crave the drug... it isn't thinking, "I gotta have it, I just gotta have it." but your body, without the medication it has become accustomed to, will not work properly if doses are missed or stopped altogether.

ADDICTION: Drug addiction (remember, I am talking prescription, here), can often happen with medications that cross the Blood-Brain Barrier. Not all medications can cross the blood-brain barrier. But when they do, there is then a risk that your mind will become addicted to the drug... that your mind will crave it. With addiction, your mind thinks it can't function without the drug it has become used to. Often times your mind's determination to get another dose of the drug in question may be so strong that it may make a person act in ways they never usually would or do things to get it that they would never do otherwise. (This is not the case with dependency)  I really hope this is making sense. The first part of this page also has a great explanation about addiction in relationship to the blood-brain barrier.

So in general, DEPENDENCY drugs affect the body and ADDICTIVE drugs affect the brain, which, in turn, can affect the entire body. There are many different views, opinions, definitions, and explanations as to dependency versus addiction, but in the world of prescribed medications, this is the explanation I was given by my best doctor. And I hope that at least one person can get some benefit out of my odd ramble of the day.  Although not about addiction, HERE is one more interesting bit of information about medications and the blood-brain barrier.
Here are some NATURALS that can cross the blood-brain barrier. Although this is a little off topic, I find it sadly interesting that Caffeine crosses the blood-brain barrier, but cancer drugs can't. At YOUNG LIVING they discuss some Essential Oils that show capabilities of crossing the Blood Brain Barrier and even raising the oxygen levels in the brain, which could be great news for healing cancer and other diseases that chemical medications can't, and without the side effect of addiction, too.

There are also things throughout our daily lives that can open up the Blood Brain Barrier and allow things in that normally wouldn't go in. Could this cause a normally DEPENDENCY drug to become an ADDICTIVE drug? I do not know, but I think I will be doing some further research on the subject. At Neuroscience For Kids, they discuss these every day barrier breakers. It really gives you something to think about. It is just one more reason for me to wean off of using my microwave, and work harder at getting my blood pressure down (naturally, of course)!


  1. That is definitely food for thought. We are trying to stay away from the pharmacy as much as possible. That is why hubby and I are working out at the gym, as well as farm work. We try to eat healthy and each day we learn new remedies for ailments.

  2. I am always glad to hear of someone else that is trying to steer away from pharmacies, too. We, too, are trying to learn more and more about natural remedies that can replace the chemical medications we have used and live more healthy. Right now I am searching for natural remedies to lower blood pressure. We need to all stick together and teach each other what we know so we can learn more remedies, faster.
    I am a firm believer that God gave us all we need, right here on this Earth, in its natural state, to heal our bodies. We just have to find them. Sad that, over time, as we became lazy with the 'just pop a pill' attitude, we, as a society, have lost memory of many of those remedies we once knew of.


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