Understanding The General Differences
The definitions of addiction and dependence in the context of substance use disorders are different. Substance dependence includes physical or physiological symptoms, such as increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms. Dependence is almost purely physical; it has to do with how the body responds to repeated drug or alcohol use. Rather than your brain telling you that you need more of the substance in their system, your body tells you it will not feel normal without alcohol or drugs. Dependence can be mental as well, but differently than addiction.
Despite the difference in their definitions, dependence and addiction are not always mutually exclusive. It is possible to have a physical dependence on a substance without being addicted, but dependence is almost always an addiction factor. While a dependent person is not yet addicted, it is possible they will be.
Addiction is not as clear-cut as the definition of dependence, but the main difference is that addiction has to do with changes in the brain. When the brains biochemistry adapts to substance use so that a person is compulsively using despite harmful consequences, a person is considered addicted. No matter what they do or what harm their substance abuse can cause themselves or others, they cannot stop using the drug.
Physical Dependence Vs Psychological Dependence
Physical dependence is often unavoidable. When a person uses a substance every day or nearly every dayeven with a legally prescribed drug by a doctortheir body naturally adapts to the exposure of the drug the person repeatedly gives it. At some point, a tolerance to the substances may develop, meaning they must consume more regularly and with higher amounts. If they stop drinking or using the drug, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. For many people, those symptoms are unbearable, and the only way to have relief is to satisfy the cravings by getting more drugs.;
Psychological dependence can be a part of physical dependence, but it is a phenomenon with a unique expression. The dependence here is when a persons drug use is a conditioned response to a perceived trigger. It could be something external, like a location or object, or it could be an activity like driving. Whatever its nature, when the brain receives the cue from the trigger, a biochemical reaction within the brain influences the persons thoughts and actions.;
Until recently, many providers considered dependence and addiction as being synonymous. But despite similarities in symptoms, a person with a dependency on drugs or alcohol doesnt always mean they are or will become addicted to their use of them.
Adolescents and pills
Reasons Why Alcoholics Drink
Alcoholics always have a reason to drink. They often joke that they can start drinking at 10 AM because “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
There are other reasons that may be a bit more serious, including:
- To medicate trauma from childhood
- The idea that alcohol will ease depression
- To medicate or even enhance bipolar disorder
- Loss of a loved one
- Genetic predisposition
- To soothe the psychological pain from sexual trauma
- To soothe feelings of inadequacy
- The belief that alcohol can produce a good night’s sleep
- To ease social anxiety
- Problems at work, which often stem from drinking
- Peer Pressure
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Defining Drug Addiction & Warning Signs
Addiction involves not just physical tolerance to drugs, but other noticeable changes that happen when prolonged drug abuse creates biochemical changes in the brain. Someone with addiction is both physically and mentally reliant on a substance, as people with addictions tend to abuse drugs for the pleasurable high they feel when theyre on them. When youre addicted to a drug, finding and using it becomes your main priority. Addiction can impair your judgment and many people destroy their relationships and livelihood as a result.
Many people with addictions, especially addictions to drugs they were described by doctors, dont realize they have a problem because it can develop slowly over time. Its important to know the warning signs of addiction so you can recognize when its time to seek professional help.
Drug Dependence And Addiction
When one is unable to function normally and participate in everyday activities like attending school, going to work and meeting their social and personal needs without taking a particular substance, they can be described as being dependent on that drug. This usually happens after using it multiple times, during which tolerance gradually develops.
Its possible to be dependent on multiple drugs at the same time, particularly when alcohol is involved. The rate at which dependence forms is reliant on several factors. The most significant among them are the nature of the drug, the unique profile of the user and any mental disorders the user may be suffering from and attempting to cope with.
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The Difference Between Addiction And Dependence
Nearly 20 million Americans suffer from a substance abuse disorder each year. Substance abuse disorders include dependence and addiction to alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications. They severely impact the health and safety of the people who are affected by them.
Though addiction and dependence are terms that are often used interchangeably, there are some important differences between them. Dependence means that your body has gotten used to the substance, while addiction is a disease that causes you to continue using the substance even if it causes ill effects in your life.
At Headrick Medical Center, Daniel J. Headrick, MD, and our compassionate team in San Juan Capistrano, California, are here to help you recover from substance abuse disorder. Offering a range of medications and counseling tailored to your needs, we can help you live a life free of substance abuse.
Read on to learn more about the key differences between addiction and dependence, and what recovery could look like for you.
Treatment For Drug Abuse
Professional treatment is necessary to treat drug abuse. When a client arrives at a treatment facility, a thorough evaluation is conducted, and they undergo medically supervised detox, if necessary. Once the detox is completed, an individualized treatment program that includes group and individual counseling, healthy eating and exercise can start. Clients learn how to live an active and healthy lifestyle that is free from drugs and alcohol.
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The Definition Of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse, also known as alcohol misuse, is when a persons drinking behavior starts causing problems with their livelihood. They may start falling behind in school and suffer poor grades or struggle with making it to work on time and fulfilling professional responsibilities. Alcohol misuse may also trigger or worsen certain health problems, and lead to strained relationships between family, friends, and partners. For some, alcohol misuse may also lead to dangerous situations and legal problems.
The CDC;defines alcohol misuse;as having more than 1 drink per day for women and more than 2 drinks per day for men, on average. Alcohol misuse is a known risk factor for unintentional injuries, violence, risky sexual behavior, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, dementia, and many types of cancer.;
People who abuse alcohol are not necessarily dependent on it. They may not crave alcohol or need it to stop tremors, shaking, and other associated withdrawal symptoms. However, alcohol abuse is a serious problem that must be stopped and controlled before it progresses to dependence and addiction.
What Is Substance Misuse
When a person misuses drugs or alcohol, they typically consume the substances in an unhealthy or improper way. The misuse of alcohol or drugs occurs when a person uses them outside the realm of their intended use. The opposite of substance misuse is taking medication as written by a doctor or drinking in moderation.;
Other examples include when a person continuously uses a substance with the sole intent of invoking euphoric feelings of being high. A person could also misuse drugs repeatedly to evade or alter their perception of reality, or they may consume substances as a maladaptive means to manage their stress. Usually, misuse is too far from addiction to connect the two, but sometimes misuse can devolve and become an addiction concern.;
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Signs Of Psychological Dependence
If you have ever tried quitting coffee, smoking, or even sugar, you might be familiar with psychological withdrawals. These types of withdrawals are mostly associated with cravings: feeling a need for the drug, not out of necessity, but out of want. This is the common underlying withdrawal symptom with most drugs, however, not all drugs will promote physical withdrawals.;
Substance Addiction Vs Dependence: An Overview
When people talk about addiction, they are usually referring to the harmful effects that drugs and alcohol have on a persons behavior. When they talk about dependence, they are typically inferring that the person is reliant on drugs and alcohol, despite the negative consequences. However, are those the true definitions? And dont they overlap?
The differences between substance addiction and substance dependence are slight, as many of their signs and symptoms intersect.
Addiction is characterized by an inability to stop using a substance, despite the harmful consequences. A person who is addicted typically struggles to meet work, social, and/or family obligations. Generally, this person will also have built a tolerance to their drug of choice, and experience painful withdrawal symptoms upon stopping use of it. Addiction is caused by chronic substance use.
Dependence is typically a physical reliance on a drug, also characterized by symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal. An individual who is dependent on a drug may have a high tolerance, and needs to ingest higher dosages to feel the drugs effects. If this person stops use abruptly, they will also experience acute withdrawal symptoms, as their body craves more of the drug. Like addiction, dependence happens with chronic drug use.
According to the latest version of the DSM, substance use disorders can be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the number of symptoms. Symptoms include:
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Dependence Vs Addiction: What Is The Difference
Medically Reviewed By: Melinda Santa
What Is The Difference Between Substance Abuse And Substance Dependence
Best cost-effective mental health services and treatments located in San Diego, CA
Abusing drugs and alcohol can lead to serious consequences, from damaged relationships to long-term health conditions and tragically, its a widespread problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over a quarter of the U.S. population engages in heavy alcohol consumption, and over 10% of Americans aged 12 and older have used an illicit drug in the past month.
Even occasional drug use can be fatal; in the year 2017, there were over 70,000 deaths related to drug overdoses. And all too often, repetitive substance abuse creates a crippling physical dependency that makes it impossible to function without drugs or alcohol. With timely intervention and treatment, however, substance abuse and dependence can be overcome.
The Difference Between Substance Abuse and Substance Dependence
The terms substance abuse and substance dependence are sometimes used interchangeably, but theyre actually two different conditions. Substance abuse is a pattern of drug or alcohol use that leads to negative consequences. It often brings about problems in work or school, impacts relationships with friends or family members, and introduces dangerous or potentially life-threatening situations.
How Substance Abuse Leads to Dependence
Recognizing Alcohol or Drug Abuse and Dependency
Some of the more common signs of substance dependency include:
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The Important Difference Is Often Misunderstoodand It Is No Wonder
It is no secret that misinformation about addiction is rampant in popular media. One particular area of misinformation concerns how the use of language is employed when describing topics related to addiction. If you have ever found yourself reading or warily chiming into discussions on social media about addiction, you might quickly get sucked into a world of confusion as you observe all sorts of peoplemedical professionals, journalists, parents, people who use substances, people in recovery, etc.incessantly argue over the definitions of terminology, such as “addiction,” “dependence,” “abuse,” “misuse,” “habit-forming,” “recreational use,” “medicinal use,” etc.
In my experience as a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of concurrent addictive and psychiatric disorders, one of the most important and commonly confused distinctions is that between “addiction and “dependence.” And it is no wonder.
The scientific construct of addiction has a rich and evolving history. Even the people who dedicate their lives to researching addiction, and who are responsible for the very medical texts that we use to diagnose addiction, haven’t been able to arrive at a clear consensus about which terms should be used.
A bit of contentious history
Here’s the biggest source of confusion
How do we define addiction and dependence today?
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.
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Is There Really A Difference Between Drug Addiction And Drug Dependence
Yes, and heres why
It is no secret that misinformation about addiction is rampant in popular media. One particular area of misinformation concerns what language gets used when describing topics related to addiction.If you have ever found yourself reading or warily chiming into discussions on social media about addiction,you might quickly get sucked into a world of confusion as you observe all sorts of individualsmedical professionals, journalists, parents, people who use substances, people in recoveryincessantly argue over terminology such as addiction,dependence,abuse,misuse,habit-forming,recreational use or medicinal use.
In my experience as a clinical psychologist and, dare I facetiously say, a Twitter addict, the most important and commonly confused distinction is between addiction and dependence. And it is no wonder.
The scientific construct of addiction has a rich and evolving history. Even the people who dedicate their lives to researching addiction and who are responsible for the very medical texts that we use to diagnose addiction havent arrived at a clear consensus about which terms to use when.
A Contentious History
The Biggest Source of Confusion
Thus, the medical world was left with two very different definitions of dependence: one that signified physical dependence and one that signified a more complicated kind of biopsychosocial dependence, which, in reality, was used as a proxy to diagnose addiction.
Is There A Difference Between Dependence & Addiction
One of the most commonly asked questions people have in regards to drug addiction is whether theres a difference between dependence and addiction. You may be trying to do research and see some organizations use the terms interchangeably, or you might have been told by a doctor that youve developed a tolerance or dependence on prescribed medication. Despite what some think, dependence and addiction describe two different types of relationships to drugs.
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Get Help For Drug And Alcohol Dependence Abuse And Addiction
Dependence, abuse, and addiction are not the same thing but could be described as closely related. They share some characteristics, and one condition does have the potential to slide into another over time and with repeated exposure to chemicals. Not everyone who is exposed to drugs will develop a dependence, starting abusing drugs or become addicted, though there is always that risk. There are a number of factors at play that determine who will have these types of challenges.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one having a problem with drugs, contact us today to learn about our treatment programs.
How Drug Abuse Can Lead To Dependence
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 22.7 million Americans need help treating a drug or alcohol problem. In some cases, people may take a prescription medication for pain or another medical condition. This kind of use can sometimes develop into a substance use disorder.
The following are known triggers for substance use disorders:
- having a family history of addiction
- living in an environment where illegal drugs are often used and easy to access
- having a history of anxiety
- having a history of depression
- having a history of other mental health conditions
Drug users typically pass through certain stages on the way to drug dependence. One way that healthcare providers describe these stages is with the Jellinek Curve. The curve tracks typical stages experienced through occasional use, dependence, disorder, and rehabilitation.
These stages include:
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Addiction Vs Dependence: Is There A Difference
It is time to explain the difference between drug addiction and drug dependence finally. Throughout history, the two terms have notoriously been used interchangeably. In reality, their definitions are noticeably different in a number of ways. Below is more information on addiction and dependence and the difference between the two.;
What Is Addiction?
Addiction occurs after prolonged and repetitive usage of an addictive drug or substance. It induces a chemical change in the brain that makes the person crave the drug more and more. The longer someone is addicted to a substance, the higher their tolerance and the greater the withdrawal symptoms.;
Drug addiction often causes a major toll on not only your health but your relationships, career goals, and ultimately your finances. However, once you are addicted to something, it becomes increasingly difficult to realize it on your own until you are near rock bottom.;
Because addiction alters the chemical balance in your brain, your entire perspective changes along with it. Thats why its difficult to realize you are addicted to something until a close friend or relative speaks up about the change they notice. More often than not, those closest to those struggling with addiction will realize the behavior first. They themselves arent addicted to the substance and can see the situation with a clear mind.;;
Some common signs of addiction are:;
What Is Dependence?
Common Signs of Dependence
Some common signs of drug dependence are:;