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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Is it dependence or addiction? You might find these words used interchangeably, but they have different meanings when you're talking about substance use. If you find yourself or a loved one in a battle to quit drugs or alcohol, it can be helpful to know the difference between dependence vs addiction. This awareness can help you find the right treatment when you’re ready to get help.

What Is A Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence is a reference to the physiological symptoms you endure when your bodily system grows used to a mind-influencing substance. Drugs and alcohol consist of potent chemicals. When consuming them frequently, your body’s system gets acclimated to the chemicals and adjusts its chemistry in response. It will eventually count on that substance to operate normally.

When you have a dependence, you may develop a tolerance, meaning you need larger doses of a substance to realize its effects. You’ll also note adverse effects when you no longer use a substance you’re dependent on. Your body responds to the absence of the chemicals, and you experience physical unease. These symptoms are known as withdrawal and may include:

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

The severity of withdrawal is based on the substance you have a dependence on, your usage levels and frequency, and the amount of time you’ve been dependent. To illustrate, missing your daily coffee may cause an irksome headache if you are dependent on caffeine. On the other hand, being dependent on narcotics could cause more debilitating withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and nausea.

What Is An Addiction?

Addiction often looks very much like dependence; however, addiction is psychological dependence as opposed to physical. When you experience addiction, you feel forcefully compelled to take a substance. Addiction-causing drugs and alcohol are able to change your brain’s reward pathways, so you only feel good when you have those substances in your system. Your brain hungers for those chemicals. This creates uncontrollable substance use. You aren’t able to focus on anything unless you’ve acquired your “score.” You can’t control the impulse to take whatever you’ve grown addicted to.

The chief difference between dependence vs addiction is that with dependence, you may not experience the compulsion to take a substance, but your body becomes ill if you don’t. In addiction, your head tells you that you must ingest the substance even when you don’t feel physically unwell when not using it. Dependence can result in addiction, so it’s possible to have both the physical and psychological need for a drug.

How Does Treatment Differ For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s crucial to know that both dependence and addiction may devestate your life. Both can lead to life-changing illnesses and risky behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be addressed to conquer substance use.

If you realize that your body or brain won’t allow you to stop using either drugs or alcohol, you need licensed medical assistance to detox and maintain sobriety. But, not all detox facilities treat both addiction and dependence. Many will address the physiological symptoms of dependency and withdrawal without looking at the psychological compulsions of addiction.

If you require addiction services, try to find a treatment center like Sunrise Detox Cherry Hill that provides both medical and psychological 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 under control, it’s easier to prevent relapse and maintain sobriety for the next recovery steps.

Find Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Cherry Hill

No matter if you have an addiction, dependence, or both, Sunrise Detox Cherry Hill can help. Reach out to 856-333-3783 or complete the form below, and we will reply immediately. We’ll arrange a private consultation about the kind of substance use support you require and our admission process. Make the call day or night, and we’ll respond, without exception. We’re standing by to speak with you right now.