Addiction vs Dependence

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Addiction vs Dependence

Do you know the key difference between addiction vs dependence? It can be easy to believe that addiction is addiction. The reality is that there are some differences to be aware of.

The more you understand substance abuse vs dependence, the better you will recognize these concerns in yourself and those you love. The differences that exist when considering abuse vs dependence can be hard to understand. There are some who use the words interchangeably.

Some apply different definitions to them, while others may abandon the use of the terms altogether. This lack of consistency can make it difficult to differentiate between the terms.

Definition of Dependence

When the term dependence is used, it typically refers to a physical dependence on one or more substances. Dependence can be characterized by both withdrawal and tolerance symptoms. These symptoms can vary greatly. Both between the individual and the type of substance being abused.

It is possible to live with physical dependence on a substance without being addicted to it. In other words, physical dependence does not necessarily constitute an addiction. However, addiction is typically not too far off.

Physical dependence can occur with the abuse of several drugs. This includes prescription drugs, even if the drugs are taken as prescribed. The difference between addiction vs dependence can be challenging to discern.

This is particularly the case with prescription pain medications. The need for a legitimate increase in dosage could represent an increasing tolerance or a worsening of the underlying concern. This is in opposition to the start of abuse or addiction.

The mark of addiction is typically behavioral changes. These areas the result of biochemical changes that take place in the brain after prolonged substance abuse. The use of the substances soon becomes the priority of the addict, regardless of the damage that their substance abuse may do to themselves or to others.

Addiction can lead even the most rational person to behave irrationally without their substance of choice. Addiction will typically encompass both a physical and mental reliance on a substance.

Mental Dependence vs Physical Dependence

Do you understand the differences between a mental and a physical dependence? Mental dependence on a substance can be quite complex. In these situations, the abuse of the substance of choice is a conditioned response to a trigger. These triggers could encompass feelings or experiences.

For some, it could be that something as commonplace as walking into a busy store can trigger the need to use. These triggers can lead to biochemical changes in the brain of the addict and have a strong influence on addictive behaviors.

Triggers can potentially be strong emotional responses, whether to an event, people, places, or anything else that is associated with the use of a substance. Understanding the symptoms of triggers can help the addict in recovery to better focus on healthy coping strategies.

Some of these symptoms include a sensation of tightness in the stomach, anxiety, irritability, and feeling an overwhelming need to use alcohol or drugs. When the primary signs of mental and physical dependence are present, addiction is typically present.

However, there is a primary difference between addiction and dependence. This is the blend of physical and mental dependence with erratic behavior being used in an effort to obtain and use the substance of choice.

How the Brain is Impacted

Addiction and dependence result from changes to separate areas of the brain. Dependence impacts the parts of the brain known as the brain stem and the thalamus. Addiction comes from changes to the parts of the brain responsible for pleasure and rewards. That is why you can be physically dependent on a drug, but not have an addiction to it.

Consider the example of the individual who consumes alcohol repeatedly. This behavior may go on for several days or weeks in a row. The brain will adapt to the substance being present. The individual may start to become dependent on alcohol.

They may rely on it to help them feel a sense of normalcy. When alcohol consumption stops, symptoms of withdrawal will occur. Those who are dependent on alcohol will typically overcome the symptoms of withdrawal within a week. Others may find it much more difficult to stop drinking because they are struggling with addiction versus dependence.

This makes it more difficult to stay sober. Tolerance is another consideration that is intricately linked to dependence. As individuals become increasingly dependent on a drug, their tolerance to it will increase. High tolerance and dependency on alcohol or drugs is a warning sign for addiction. They are, however, not the sole addiction indicators.

Drug Dependence vs Drug Addiction

Getting the right type of support during withdrawal can make a world of difference. Beyond that, there are varying and often dramatic differences between withdrawal symptoms of some substances. At Resurgence Behavioral Health we understand the differences that can become a reality for each of our patients.

When patients go through withdrawal, they may face a range of symptoms. Many of these symptoms can be based on the abused substance, as well as the length of time the substance was abused. For example, stimulant withdrawal can result in fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, and paranoia.

Those struggling with addiction in recovery can quite often recover from their physical dependence within a few days. The bigger hurdle to overcome is the mental and emotional side of the addiction. With the right treatment, recovering addicts have a higher rate of success.

Some withdrawal symptoms for some abused substances can be life-threatening. Resurgence Behavioral Health understands and focuses on safety as the number one priority. Medically supervised withdrawal is important for recovery, as well as the right type of therapeutic solutions.

Are You Addicted or Dependent?

It is relatively easy to determine whether you are dependent on a drug or other substance. If halting the use of the drug kicks off noticeable symptoms of withdrawal, dependence is a factor. It is not as easy to determine whether an individual is addicted.

For example, patients who have been prescribed opioids for severe illness-related pain could be dependent on a drug. They will experience the signs of physical withdrawal if they stop taking the medication. They will not be considered addicted if they are not compulsively engaging in behaviors to seek out the drug, despite clear harms.

It is a complicated process to determine whether those seeking opioids are fueled by the need for pain relief or by addiction. If the individual is not experiencing some of the noticeable consequences of addiction, they are likely not addicted. Family issues or the loss of a job could be some of these consequences.

Analyzing the behaviors that you engage in can help you determine whether you are addicted. Does the use of drugs hurt your relationships? Are you experiencing concerns at school or work?

Have you had some trouble with law enforcement? If you feel like you have an addiction, you should reach out to a loved one. It is important to get the right support and help to overcome your addiction.

Free Insurance Verification for Rehab

Are you not sure where to start? At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we have a team of compassionate experts who can help. Our team can work with you to verify your insurance coverage and other coverage options. From there, your treatment plan can be addressed.

Understanding the key difference between substance addiction vs dependence can allow you to better comprehend the volatile nature of addiction. These are lessons that can be learned within the safety of a recovery facility.

It can also prove to be a valuable tool when working on your recovery. It is important that you recognize that dependence may exist without addiction. However, substance dependencies do frequently result in addiction.

A recovery and rehabilitation facility like Resurgence Behavioral Health offers the treatments you need. Along with comprehensive treatment plans, a supportive and understanding environment can prove beneficial.