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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Dependence or addiction? You might discover these terms used as one and the same, but they mean different things when you're referring to substance use. If you find yourself or someone you love struggling to quit using drugs or alcohol, it can be valuable to know the difference between dependence vs addiction. This awareness can assist you in finding the proper treatment when you’re prepared to get help.

What Is Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence alludes to the physiological symptoms you experience when your body gets used to a brain-altering substance. Drugs and alcohol contain powerful chemicals. When you take them regularly, your body’s system becomes acclimated to these chemicals and changes its chemistry as a result. It will then rely on that substance to function as normal.

If you have a dependence, you could form a tolerance, which suggests you need greater doses of a substance to experience its effects. You’ll also perceive adverse effects when you stop using a substance you’re dependent on. Your system responds to the lack of the chemicals, and you endure physical discomfort. These symptoms are known as withdrawal and may include:

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

The acuteness of withdrawal depends on the substance you have a dependence on, how much you were using it, and the amount of time you’ve experienced dependency. For example, skipping your daily coffee might cause an annoying headache if you have a dependency on caffeine. Conversely, a narcotics dependency may result in more troubling withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain and diarrhea.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction might look quite similar to dependence; but, addiction is psychological dependency rather than physical. If you experience an addiction, you feel forcefully compelled to consume a substance. Addiction-causing drugs and alcohol can rewire your brain’s neural pathways, so good feelings are only experienced when you those substances are in your system. Your brain craves those chemicals. This creates compulsive substance use. You are unable to focus on anything until you’ve obtained your “fix.” You can’t curb the urge to ingest whatever you’ve become addicted to.

The biggest difference between dependence vs addiction is that with dependence, you might not have the urge to take a substance, but your body gets sick when you don’t. In regards to addiction, your head informs you that you need to have the substance even if you don’t feel physically unwell without it. Dependence may lead to addiction, so it’s possible to have both the psychological and physical need for a substance.

How Will Treatment Differ For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s important to understand that both dependence and addiction could damage your life. Both can result in life-altering medical problems and hazardous behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be addressed to overcome substance use.

If you find that your mind or body won’t permit you to halt the use of either alcohol or drugs, you need professional assistance to detox and remain sober. However, not every detox provider treats both addiction and dependence. Many will address the physical symptoms of dependency and withdrawal without managing the mental facets of addiction.

If you need addiction support, search for a treatment facility like Sunrise Detox Stirling that offers both physical and psychological treatment. Our licensed professionals will help you feel safe and comfortable while your system flushes out drugs or alcohol. With the symptoms of either dependence or addiction managed, it’s easier to stave off relapse and sustain sobriety for the next recovery steps.

Get Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Stirling

No matter if you have a dependency, addiction, or both, Sunrise Detox Stirling can help. Place a call to 908-274-2043 or complete the form below, and we will answer immediately. We’ll arrange a private discussion about the kind of substance use care you need and our intake steps. Make the call at any hour, and we’ll respond, without exception. We’re ready to talk right now.