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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Is it dependence or addiction? You may find these words used synonymously, but they have different meanings when you're talking about substance use. If you find yourself or someone you care about in a struggle to quit drugs or alcohol, it can be valuable to know the differences between dependence vs addiction. This awareness can help you find the most suitable treatment when it’s time to get help.

What Is A Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence is a reference to the physiological symptoms you endure when your body gets accustomed to a brain-altering substance. Alcohol and drugs have powerful chemicals in them. When using them regularly, your system becomes acclimated to the chemicals and adjusts its chemistry in return. It will eventually count on that substance to operate normally.

Whenever you become dependent, you could develop a tolerance, which means you need larger doses of a substance to realize its effects. You’ll also note adverse effects when you stop using a substance you’re dependent on. Your body has a response to the absence of the chemicals, and you are faced with physical unease. These symptoms are known as withdrawal and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Aches and pains
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Dilated pupils
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Cravings
  • Irritability
  • Mood shifts
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

The acuteness of withdrawal is contingent on the substance you have a dependence on, your usage levels and frequency, and the length of time you’ve experienced dependency. For instance, forgoing your morning coffee might cause an irksome headache if you are dependent on caffeine. On the other hand, a narcotics dependency may lead to more worrisome withdrawal symptoms like fever and nausea.

What Is An Addiction?

Addiction can look quite similar to dependence; however, addiction is psychological dependence and not physiological. When you have an addiction, you feel strongly compelled to consume a substance. Addictive drugs and alcohol can change your brain’s pleasure circuitry, so good feelings are only experienced when you those substances are in your system. Your brain wants those chemicals. This leads to compulsive substance use. You are unable to center your attention on anything until you’ve obtained your “fix.” You can’t control the impulse to take whatever you’ve become addicted to.

The chief difference between dependence vs addiction is that with dependence, you may not experience the urge to consume a substance, but you get sick if you don’t. In regards to addiction, your head lets you know that you need to take the substance even when you don’t feel physically ill without it. Dependence might lead to addiction, so it’s possible to have both the physical and mental need for a substance.

How Is Treatment Different For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s crucial to understand that both addiction and dependence can destroy your life. Both may cause life-threatening illnesses and dangerous behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be addressed to overcome substance use.

If you realize that your mind or body won’t allow you to halt the use of either alcohol or drugs, you need specialized medical assistance to detox and maintain sobriety. Just know, not every detox center treats both dependence and addiction. Quite a few will attend to the physiological symptoms of dependency and withdrawal without looking at the psychological urges of addiction.

If you know you need addiction support, look for a treatment facility like Sunrise Detox Millbury that offers both physical and psychological treatment. Our licensed professionals will help you feel at ease and safe while your system rids itself of alcohol or drugs. With the symptoms of either addiction or dependence managed, it’s easier to avoid relapse and sustain sobriety for the following steps in your recovery journey.

Get Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Millbury

Whether you have an addiction, dependence, or both, Sunrise Detox Millbury can help. Place a call to 508-506-8940 or send in the form below, and we will reply right away. We’ll set up a personal conversation about the type of substance use services you require and our intake procedure. Make the call anytime, and we’ll always respond. We’re standing by to speak with you now.