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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Addiction or dependence? You could discover these words used interchangeably, but they have different meanings when you're referencing substance use. If you find yourself or someone you love in a battle to give up alcohol or drugs, it can be helpful to understand the differences between dependence vs addiction. This awareness can assist you in finding the proper treatment when you’re ready to seek help.

What Is Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence alludes to the physiological symptoms you encounter when your system grows used to a mind-influencing substance. Drugs and alcohol have strong chemicals in them. When you take them regularly, your body gets used to the chemicals and adjusts its chemistry as a result. It comes to depend on that substance to perform as usual.

When you have a dependence, you might form a tolerance, which means you need increased amounts of a substance to realize its effects. You’ll also note detrimental effects when you quit using a substance you are dependent upon. Your system responds to the lack of the chemicals, and you endure physical unease. These symptoms are referred to as withdrawal and might include:

  • Fatigue
  • Sleeplessness
  • 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 based on the substance you have a dependence on, your levels of use and frequency, and the length of time you’ve experienced dependency. For instance, skipping your morning coffee may lead to an annoying headache if you have a caffeine dependency. Conversely, a narcotics dependency might result in more debilitating withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and diarrhea.

What Is An Addiction?

Addiction frequently looks very similar to dependence; although, addiction is psychological dependence and not physical. When you experience an addiction, you feel powerfully compelled to consume a substance. Addictive alcohol and drugs may alter the neural circuitry in your brain, so you only feel enjoyment when you consume those substances. Your brain wants those chemicals. This leads to obsessive substance use. You are unable to focus on anything until you’ve gotten your “fix.” You can’t control the urge to take whatever you’ve become addicted to.

The biggest difference between dependence vs addiction is that when there’s a dependency, you might not feel the urge to take a substance, but your body becomes ill if you don’t. In addiction, your mind informs you that you must ingest the substance even when you don’t get physically sick without it. Dependence can lead to addiction, so it’s not unusual to have both the physical and mental need for drugs or alcohol.

How Is Treatment Different For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s important to note that both addiction and dependence may damage your life. Both can lead to life-changing illnesses and dangerous behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be addressed to overcome substance use.

If you realize that your body or brain won’t allow you to halt the use of either drugs or alcohol, you need licensed medical support to detox and maintain sobriety. However, not every detox facility treats both addiction and dependence. Quite a few will treat the physiological symptoms of dependence and withdrawal without managing the psychological compulsions of addiction.

If you know you need addiction support, try to find a treatment facility like Sunrise Detox Toms River that offers both psychological and medical treatment. Our licensed practitioners and staff will help you feel comfortable and safe while your system flushes out alcohol or drugs. With the symptoms of either addiction or dependence managed, it’s easier to stave off relapse and maintain sobriety for the next steps in recovery.

Get Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Toms River

No matter if you have an addiction, dependence, or both, Sunrise Detox Toms River can help. Place a call to 732-504-3527 or submit the form below, and we will respond immediately. We’ll arrange a confidential conversation about the type of substance use services you require and our intake procedure. Contact us day or night, and we’ll always respond. We’re here to advise you now.