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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Dependence or addiction? You may discover these terms used interchangeably, but they are quite different when you're referencing substance use. If you find yourself or a loved one in a struggle to quit using drugs or alcohol, it can be valuable to know the differences between dependence vs addiction. This knowledge can aid you in finding the proper treatment when you’re ready to seek help.

What Is A Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence is a reference to the physiological symptoms you encounter when your body gets accustomed to a mind-influencing substance. Drugs and alcohol include strong chemicals. When you use them frequently, your body becomes accustomed to the chemicals and modifies its chemistry as a result. It comes to rely on that substance to operate as normal.

If you become dependent, you might develop a tolerance, meaning you need larger amounts of a substance to get the desired results. You’ll also notice negative effects when you quit using a substance you’re dependent upon. Your body has a response to the deficiency of those chemicals, and you endure physical discomfort. These symptoms are called withdrawal and could include:

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

The severity of withdrawal is based on the substance you are dependent on, your levels of use and frequency, and the amount of time you’ve had a dependence. To illustrate, forgoing your daily coffee might produce an annoying headache if you are dependent on caffeine. On the other hand, having a narcotics dependency could result in more debilitating withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain and vomiting.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction can look very similar to dependence; however, addiction is psychological dependency rather than physical. If you have an addiction, you feel strongly compelled to use a substance. Addiction-causing drugs and alcohol can change your brain’s pleasure circuitry, so good feelings are only experienced when you use those substances. Your brain craves those chemicals. This leads to compulsive substance use. You are unable to center your attention on anything until you’ve acquired your “fix.” You can’t control the impulse to take whatever you’re addicted to.

The chief difference between dependence vs addiction is that with dependence, you might not have the desire to use a substance, but you get unwell when you don’t. In addiction, your brain lets you know that you have to take the substance even when you don’t feel physically sick when not using it. Dependence can result in addiction, so you can have both the psychological and physical need for drugs or alcohol.

How Is Treatment Different For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s crucial to know that both dependence and addiction can destroy your life. Both can cause life-altering medical issues and hazardous behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be managed to overcome substance use.

If you discover that your brain or body won’t let you halt the use of either alcohol or drugs, you need professional assistance to detox and remain sober. But, not all detox providers treat both dependence and addiction. Numerous centers will address the physiological symptoms of dependency and withdrawal without addressing the psychological compulsions of addiction.

If you require addiction services, try to find a treatment center like Beacon Point Recovery Center that offers both psychological and medical treatment. Our licensed practitioners and staff will help you feel at ease and safe while your system flushes out drugs or alcohol. With the symptoms of either addiction or dependence minimized, it’s easier to stave off relapse and sustain sobriety for the following steps in recovery.

Get Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Beacon Point Recovery Center

No matter if you have an addiction, dependence, or both, Beacon Point Recovery Center can help. Call us at 267-715-9624 or send in the form below, and we will answer at once. We’ll have a personal consultation about what substance use care you may need and our intake procedure. Contact us anytime, and we’ll respond, no matter what. We’re standing by to advise you right now.