Annie's Mailbox: Husband may be addicted to prescription

Dear Annie: Because of a severe, chronic back condition, my husband has been on prescription Oxycodone for about a year. He's a loving husband and father and has an excellent job.

I am concerned that he may be addicted. He says he's dependent, but not addicted. Is there a difference? He says that dependence is a legitimate medical condition that requires you to take the medication as prescribed. An addiction is medication purchased on the street and taken for the "high."

Admittedly, the medication has helped him immensely. He's tried other treatments, including surgery, but only the pills seem to help. He allows me to monitor his dosage and takes no more than what is prescribed. But this medication has such a stigma associated with it. Is he a functional addict, or is my concern misplaced?

- His Wife

Dear Wife: An addiction is when the psychological need, no matter how the drug is obtained, is greater than the medical requirement for it. Your husband is legitimately dependent on this medication for pain relief, and he is taking it appropriately. He may develop a tolerance for the dosage, but as long as it doesn't interfere with his job or his family life, and he follows his doctor's orders, we wouldn't be overly concerned.

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