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Difference Between Addiction And Dependency

Addiction To Prescription Drugs

The Difference Between Addiction and Dependence

Drug addiction refers to a persons need to compulsively use a drug without regard to the recognized risks of doing so. A person with addiction typically prioritizes that drug over other people or responsibilities. They realize there is danger or risk in using it, but they feel they need to use it. Addiction leads to out-of-control behavior. The decisions a person is making are not necessarily good for them but often are related to their need to use.

Signs Of A Physical Dependence Include:

  • Withdrawal symptoms: Experiencing physical symptoms, such as insomnia, tremors, and mood swings. after going for a short period without.
  • Drinking to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms, such as drinking to stop the shakes or to cure a hangover.
  • Tolerance: Needing to use increasing amounts over time to achieve previous effects. For example, you used to drink three cocktails every night, but now you need five to get the feeling youre looking for.?
  • Using larger amounts or over a longer period than intended and making unsuccessful efforts to cut down.

Physical withdrawals will depend on the drug, but common symptoms can include:

If a person uses a drug or alcohol for a long period of time they will undergo serious and fatal withdrawals with benzodiazepines and alcohol Serious Physical Withdrawals include:

If you have been using or drinking consistently for a long period of time, always consult a professional before quitting as it could be life-threatening especially with benzodiazepines and alcohol.

Addiction Vs Dependence: Signs And The Differences

Home / Addiction vs Dependence: Signs and the Differences

When life seems hopeless, and our problems seem insurmountable, many try to escape these feelings through the use of drugs, alcohol, and other substances. Unfortunately, the use of these substances can quickly turn into an addiction or dependence. It is important to understand the signs and differences between the two in order to seek help if necessary.

In this article, well take a look at addiction vs dependence, and take a look at some of the identifiers that can help determine which issue your loved ones may be dealing with.

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What Is Tolerance And How Does It Affect Dependence

Tolerance may develop in people whove been abusing a substance or substances for a prolonged period of time. The NIDA reports that tolerance occurs when, it takes a higher dose of the drug to achieve the the same level of response achieved initially.

If you develop tolerance, it doesnt mean that youre addicted but tolerance often precedes addiction. It works like this: you abuse a drug, which triggers a certain, chemical response in your brain. The next time you take that same drug, the same response occurs, but often on a lesser scale. While you may be taking the same amount of the drug, your brain no longer responds in the same way and you require more of the drug to achieve the same response.

Tolerance may affect dependence in keeping a person going back to substance abuse again and again. What starts out as recreational substance abuse can build to a habit, which can lead to dependence and later addiction.

The danger of tolerance is that it doesnt allow you to feel the amount of drugs in your system. If you take more in an attempt to feel the same high, you increase your risk of overdose as well as your risk of developing dependence or addiction.

Risk Factors For Addiction And Dependence


While it isnât possible to develop an addiction to a substance without repeated use, addictions can form more quickly and easily in certain people. Genetic, neurological, or psychological factors can all increase a personâs likelihood of developing a drug or alcohol dependence. In addition, stress, trauma, and hardship are also known ârisk factorsâ that make addiction more likely. Even certain personality traits like being naturally more impulsive or neurotic can increase the chances of developing a dependence on drugs or alcohol.

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Tolerance Vs Dependence Vs Addiction: Understanding The Differences

Home » Blogs » Tolerance vs. Dependence vs. Addiction: Understanding the Differences

Drug abuse and addiction have far-reaching effects on the mind and body. Two of the first symptoms of addiction include drug tolerance and physical dependence, but these symptoms can also develop as a result of medications prescribed by a doctor.

Understanding the difference between chemical tolerance, physical dependence, and drug addiction can help you understand substance abuse a little bit better, and, more importantly, know when its time to seek addiction treatment.

Physical Dependence On Drugs And Alcohol

Physical dependence, or simply dependence, is what happens when your body becomes reliant on a drug in order to function. In other words, when you become dependent on a drug, you experience adverse, physical symptoms when not taking it. These symptoms are known as withdrawal.

As the NIDA explains, physical dependence can happen with the chronic use of many drugsincluding many prescription drugs, even if taken as instructed. Because dependence is predictable and highly treatable it doesnt always go hand in hand with addiction, but often does.

When the body becomes dependent on a substance, it relies on a steady flow of that substance in order to maintain regular functioning and to avoid withdrawal. With some drugs, withdrawal can occur as early as a few hours after the last use.

Its important to recognize that dependence can happen with many substances, not just illicit drugs. To name a few, the NAABT cites sugar, caffeine, nicotine, antidepressants, and prescription opioids. Dependence works by changing your body due to repeated and constant use of the substance.

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What Does Dependence Mean

Unlike addiction, which stresses the interplay of both biological and psychological influences for its development, dependence only refers to the physical state associated. It is a condition where drugs have to be taken for the physical well-being. Without the necessary dose, the individual might have a physical reaction which is negative. The reason for this is that since the body has become accustomed to the drug, the removal creates a peculiar state in the body that comes out as a negative reaction. Some such reactions are nausea, sweating, racing heart, diarrhea, etc. However, these reactions are not psychological. When a drug has been used for a longer period, the body begins to grow a tolerance towards the drug making it necessary to consume a higher dose for the reaction that was initially experienced. Withdrawal from drugs can also be a rather painful experience especially at the initial phase since there is a physical yearning for drugs.

The Difference Between Drug Dependence And Addiction

Difference between dependence and addiction

Ally Pratt

Lets talk about addiction. What does this word mean to you? Perhaps youve had experience with an addiction yourself or know someone who has. However, for something so widespread, its severity seems to go shockingly under the radar in our own communities, groups, and sometimes even families.

The opioid crisis has helped fuel a 51% increase in the combined death rate from drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, or suicide between 2005 and 2016 The Commonwealth Fund

Drug overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental deaths for people under 50 in the United States, yet we still hesitate to talk about how addiction actually works and learn about effective methods of prevention.We want to challenge the way you think and talk about addiction.

Whats important to note is that drug dependence often leads to addiction. That being said, most opioid users do not become addicted to opioids. Understanding the distinction in the language is important in understanding treatments, symptoms, and risks.

The bottom line is that words can have tremendous power. We all have inherent biases, so changing the way we think and talk about addiction will require active, intentional learning and self-awareness.

Big change needs to start small, but lets not lose sight of that big change.

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Ending the Stigma of Addiction

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Substance Abuse Vs Substance Dependence

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the leading source for diagnosing and understanding addiction. The DSM-IV defined abuse and dependence as two separate disorders. However, the most recent edition of the DSM no longer creates this distinction.

Abuse and dependence are defined on a scale that measures the time and degree of substance use. Essentially, abuse is like the early stage of dependence. As substance abuse becomes more frequent, the likelihood of developing a dependence disorder becomes greater.

Abandoning The Terms

In 2013, the American Psychological Association released the fifth edition of the DSM. In this edition, the definitions revolving around addiction were changed once again. The APA ditched both substance abuse and substance dependence in favor of substance use disorder. Substance use disorder is now the medical term for addiction. Previously, abuse was a mild form of addiction, and dependence was a moderate or severe form of addiction. That terminology was problematic because in biology the study of organisms dependence refers to a physical adaptation to a substance.

Online Addiction Counseling

Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional: January 28, 2019

David Hampton

  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors .

Understanding The Difference Between Substance Abuse And Substance Addiction

Drug addiction can also be interchangeably used. In reality, the difference between a substance user and a drug addict is different. Although both are detrimental to a persons health it is essential to know how to distinguish between addiction and abuse. Some people abuse alcohol but others do so because of addiction, which affects many areas. People suffering from addictions might feel they just have some problem with abuse, when the reality is starting to crumble.

You can quickly and privately check your insurance benefits to see if youre covered for addiction treatment services. Well be able to tell you if your provider is in network with River Oaks Treatment Center and all American Addiction Centers locations. This means your treatment may be FREE 1 depending on your policy, copay, and deductible.

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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.

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What Is Substance Use Disorder

Recovering Addict Experience: The Difference You Need to Know Between ...

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the American Psychiatric Associations gold-standard text regarding names, symptoms, and diagnostic features of every recognized mental illness, substance issue or behavioral health issue. The DSM-V recognizes 10 separate diagnostic disorders based on specific substances or classes of drugs: alcohol, caffeine, cannabis, hallucinogens, inhalants, opioids, sedatives, hypnotics, stimulants, tobacco, and other or unknown substances. There is also polysubstance use disorder, which is when an individual uses or misuses more than one substance. Substance use disorder is defined as patterns of symptoms resulting from the use of a substance that you continue to take, despite experiencing problems as a result. Substance-induced disorders, including intoxication, withdrawal, and other substance/medication-induced mental disorders, are detailed alongside substance use disorders. Each substance use disorder has criteria, and individuals misusing substances meet these criteria based on their use and experience, with the overall understanding of substance use disorder being a spectrum, with varying degrees of severity

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Warning Signs Of Addiction And Dependence

Despite the differences, long-term substance abuse can lead to addiction. Its important to recognize the warning signs of dependence and addiction to prevent yourself or others from experiencing severe health problems.

Some common warnings signs of addiction and dependence include:

  • Obsessive thoughts or actions related to drugs or alcohol
  • Loss of control over their drug or alcohol use
  • Denial of their problem

Physical Dependence Vs Addiction

We know that the difference between addiction and dependence is often challenging to understand. Some organizations may have different names or definitions or use the words interchangeably, which causes mass confusion. The term substance use disorder is the preferred way of saying it in the scientific community. Since consistency is lacking, its important to establish some ground rules.

When someone uses the term dependence, theyre often referring to someone becoming physically dependent on a drug. This means theyll experience withdrawal symptoms if they decrease the dose or halt use altogether, or theyre unable to experience the effects of the drug at the dose theyve become used to, known as tolerance. With that said, its important to note that you can be dependent on a drug without being addicted. However, addiction typically follows.

Addiction is in its own category and is characterized as changes in behavior, which are caused by the biochemical changes in our brain due to prolonged substance abuse. Getting and using drugs become the main focal point in the persons life, despite any and all consequences that may follow. For example, if a person is arrested for using drugs and leaves jail to pick up more, theyve likely developed an addiction. Addiction causes individuals to act erratic or irrational when they cannot get more of their drug of choice.

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The Differences Between Dependence Abuse And Addiction To Prescription Drugs

It is somewhat common for people to use terms like drug addiction and drug abuse interchangeably. Even drug dependence, which describes a very specific condition, is not always understood. Its important for those using prescription drugs to know these differences, especially if your habits for using those medications have changed. At TruHealing Gaithersburg, we offer addiction treatment and education to help our clients learn more about prescription drug addiction and heal.

Does The Substance In Question Matter

Dependence vs Addiction : Opioid Crisis in Pennsylvania

You may assume that certain substances are more addictivethan others, and that is partially true, Mr. Kump says.

We know opioids, for example, can be highly addictive, and that addiction can develop quickly. They deliver a double punch they dont just increase the feel-good dopamine in the brain, but theres also a need to take them consistently to avoid painful withdrawal symptoms.

He sees some people who took just a few weeks to develop an addiction to opioids, while others had a slower journey to their addiction.

Alcohol, on the other hand, often follows a slower, more insidious path of abuse before the body becomes dependent on it. And it is the most misused drug in the United States, Mr. Kump says.

He also sees people who have taken heroin without developing an addiction, yet they cant seem to stop smoking and give up nicotine.

Does addiction lie within the substance or within the person? Perhaps it is both, he says. Everyone is at risk for becoming dependent on opioids, but not necessarily more than alcohol. Perhaps its more about the relationship between the person and the substance than either one by itself.

Heredity also plays a major role in addiction, Mr. Kump says. Like all chronic illness, a family history puts people at higher risk for developing the illness.

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Understanding The Main Differences Between Use Abuse And Dependence On Drugs

Drug abuse statistics reveal an alarming fact about substance abuse: over 20 million people in America used drugs or alcohol to the extent of a substance use disorder in 2014. Substance use disorder includes the abuse, dependence and addiction to drugs. Addiction and dependence on drugs carry with it many severe side effects that have an impact on a persons mental well-being and health. The behavior of an addict or substance abuser can affect their social, occupational and family life until nearly every aspect of their life is affected.

But what is the difference between use, abuse and dependence on drugs? In this article, we will explore the science behind substance use disorder.

Differences Between Addiction And Dependency

There isnt just one difference between addiction and dependency. They are two totally separate conditions that require different responses.

Below weve outlined three of the biggest differences between addiction and dependency so you can better understand how each works:

Addiction is a Disease Whereas Dependency is Not

In 1987 addiction was officially classified by the AMA as a disease that requires treatment.

This is in sharp contrast to dependency, which is not a disease and not necessarily a bad thing either. For example, many people on SSRIs receive loads of benefits for their depression. Still, if the SSRI was suddenly taken away they would experience withdrawals. Thats why if they ever need to quit they simply have to work with their doctor and taper down first. While some people might become addicted to some medication, it could be prevented by using some of the 7 healthy ways to handle depression without medication.

The real point here is that addiction is pretty much always viewed as a challenge a person must overcome, whereas, dependency can simply be a fact of taking certain medications. With the right doctor dependency can be broken when the time is right with minimal withdrawal symptoms compared to quitting cold turkey. The narcissist and empath relationship cycle can become vicious and even cause dependency. read on to the article to have some information about the topic.

Addiction Involves Losing Control Whereas Dependency Does Not

Also Check: Help With Addiction And Depression

How To Recover From Addiction

If someone is struggling with prolonged substance abuse, recovery should be the primary focus. In order for someone to recover from an addiction, several steps need to be taken.

First, it is important for them to recognize and admit that they have a problem and then seek professional help. Treatment can include detoxification, 12-step programs, cognitive behavioral therapy , support groups, sober living programs and/or medications.

It is also crucial for them to develop a strong social sober network that can provide emotional and practical support in overcoming substance use disorders. They should surround themselves with positive influences, family, friends, or other people in recovery who can help motivate them to stay sober.

Finally, it is important for someone recovering from a drug abuse addiction to develop healthy coping mechanisms that can be used in place of their substance or drug abuse. This could include exercise, meditation, art, music, or other activities.

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