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If I start on oxygen, won’t I get addicted to it?

No. The air we breathe is approximately 21% oxygen, we cannot live without it. When a patient is started on supplemental oxygen they are often put on something in the range of 24 to 30% oxygen, so it is just a little more than is in the usual air you breathe. Using supplemental oxygen does not make you dependent on it anymore than you have already been dependent on it since your first breath. It is just that with lung disease you may need a little bit more oxygen going into your lungs in order to get an adequate amount through your diseased lungs into your blood stream.

Using supplemental oxygen does not result in increasing demand for oxygen. The increased need is simply related to the progression of your underlying lung disease. Often patients who need oxygen find that as years go by and their lung disease gradually worsens that it takes more oxygen to get the same blood level. This is not because they were started on supplemental oxygen. It is merely because the disease has progressed (as is the natural course of many lung diseases). Often times patients feel that oxygen may be addictive because once they are started on supplemental oxygen they “can never get off it.”  If the underlying lung disease is significant enough that oxygen is required in the first place, oxygen is likely going to always be required.

If Professor Allen feels that you need to use oxygen, you should use it without fear of it causing dependence. Studies show that if you meet the criteria for needing oxygen and use it according to your prescription, you will survive better and longer than a similar patient with a similar disease who chooses not to use oxygen.