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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Is it addiction or dependence? You could find these words used interchangeably, but they mean different things when you're referencing substance use. If you find yourself or someone you love in a struggle to give up alcohol or drugs, it can be beneficial to comprehend the difference between dependence vs addiction. This information can help you find the most suitable treatment when it’s time to seek help.

What Is A Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence refers to the physiological symptoms you encounter when your system gets accustomed to a brain-altering substance. Alcohol and drugs contain potent chemicals. When you consume them frequently, your body’s system becomes used to these chemicals and modifies its chemistry in return. It will then rely on that substance to operate as normal.

Whenever you become dependent, you may develop a tolerance, which means you need greater doses of a substance to realize its effects. You’ll also notice detrimental effects when you stop using a substance you are dependent upon. Your system reacts to the deficiency of those chemicals, and you endure physical discomfort. These symptoms are referred to as withdrawal and may include:

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

The intensity of withdrawal depends on the substance you are dependent on, how much you were using it, and for how long you’ve had a dependence. To illustrate, missing your morning coffee might cause an annoying headache if you have a caffeine dependency. However, having a narcotics dependency might result in more debilitating withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and vomiting.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction may look quite similar to dependence; however, addiction is psychological dependency and not physical. When you experience an addiction, you feel forcefully compelled to use a substance. Addiction-causing alcohol and drugs may rewire your brain’s neural pathways, so good feelings are only experienced when you those substances are in your system. Your brain hungers for those chemicals. This leads to obsessive substance use. You are unable to concentrate on anything till you’ve gotten the substance. You can’t control the impulse to ingest whatever you’re addicted to.

The chief difference between dependence vs addiction is that when you’re dependent, you might not experience the desire to take a substance, but you get unwell when you don’t. In addiction, your mind tells you that you have to take the substance even if you don’t feel physically sick when abstaining from it. Dependence can result in addiction, so you can have both the mental and physical need for a drug.

How Will Treatment Differ For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s critical to know that both dependence and addiction could destroy your life. Both may lead to life-altering illnesses and risky behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be treated to conquer substance use.

If you find that your body or brain won’t let you quit using either alcohol or drugs, you need specialized medical support to detox and stay sober. But, not every detox provider treats both addiction and dependence. Many will attend to the physiological symptoms of dependence and withdrawal without looking at the psychological cravings of addiction.

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

Find Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Orlando

No matter if you have an addiction, dependence, or both, Sunrise Detox Orlando can help. Call us at 407-305-4029 or submit the form on this page, and we will respond right away. We’ll set up a confidential consultation about the kind of substance use services you need and our intake process. Contact us day or night, and we’ll respond, without exception. We’re standing by to speak with you now.