What is the Difference Between Addiction and Dependence?

All across the United States, substance abuse is becoming increasingly more common. For many people, knowing the difference between addiction and dependence can be a difficult thing to understand. Sometimes these words are even be used interchangeably without realizing there is a difference.

What is the Difference Between Addiction and Dependence?

What is Substance Dependence?

Those dependent upon a drug or alcohol are mainly just dealing with the physical dependence on the substance. When people use the term dependent, they are usually just referring to the physical aspect. Dependence on a substance can be characterized by the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when the drugs or alcohol are not in the body. The more your body acclimates to the effects of the drug or alcohol, the more physically dependent you will become.

For example, dependence is very common among those who take pain medications after major surgery or a chronic injury or disease. The person taking the drug may even take it exactly as prescribed, but dependence can still happen as the body gets used to having the drug in its system.

What is Drug Addiction?

Addiction to a drug or alcohol is something that is rooted in the brain. It is a condition where you have strong mental and physical cravings for the substance. These mental cravings occur after your brain has gone through physical changes after using the drug or alcohol. Your brain is rewired biochemically to a point where it craves the drug. Cravings can lead to uncontrolled use and can take a toll on every aspect of your life.

Difference Between Addiction and Dependence

When you are addicted to a drug and in active addiction, you will also experience physical dependency; however, the difference between addiction and dependence lies in the brain. When a dependent person is told that they need to stop taking a certain drug or stop drinking, they can do it without thinking twice about it. When you tell the same thing to a person addicted to drugs or alcohol, they literally cannot stop the impulse. Using the substance will be their main priority, no matter the harm they cause themselves or other people.

Does Dependence Turn Into Addiction?

Even when a person addicted to drugs and alcohol finally becomes sober and no longer has any substances in their system, the cravings and desire can become too strong. Sometimes they are not able to resist the urge and end up back where they started.

The longer drug and alcohol dependence goes on, the more likely it that the dependence will turn into an addiction. This pattern of use will turn into a psychological problem rather than just a physical one. Understanding the difference between drug dependence and addiction can help you, or someone you love gets the correct treatment for the condition.

Confidendial Treatment for Addiction and Dependence

Treatment for dependence on drugs or alcohol requires helping your body adjust until it is no longer dependent on the substance. This may require a medical detox to ensure your safety and health during this time. During medical detox, you will get medical care and support to help lessen any of the unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction treatment will also begin with medical detox, but this will likely not be the end of treatment. Since addiction starts in the brain, it too needs to be healed so that you will be able to overcome your addiction. This will include different therapies like behavior therapy to help you learn coping mechanisms and skills to use in the real world and any other specialized therapies to meet your needs.

Recreate Life Counseling Can Help With Addiction and Dependence Issues

If you are dependent or addicted to drugs, know that there is help for you out there. Your life, both physically and mentally, does not need to be controlled by drugs or alcohol.

Recreate Life Counseling has professionals that can help you find the best treatment program best for you. We help you recover from your addiction and dependence and stay on the path of sobriety to live a happier, healthier life. Finally, free from drugs.