It is common for friends and acquaintances to refer to someone who is abusing a substance as having an addiction or being drug dependent. Referring to someone in this manner is because the words addiction and dependence are frequently used synonymously when a person is abusing a substance and when a person has noticeable behavioral changes from increasing drug use. However, despite the synonymous usage of the two words, few differences exist between addiction and dependence.
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What is Drug Dependence?
The term “dependence” characterizes a person’s lack of physical and mental control brought on by abusing a drug. People are typically said to be drug dependent when they regularly take drugs and get physically reliant on them. Drug dependence is not necessarily an addiction, but a person with addiction shows signs of drug dependence.
It is sometimes difficult to state the difference between dependence and addiction. For instance, a patient taking painkillers prescribed to him may discover that he needs higher dosages for the drugs to be effective. Doctors can misdiagnose this as an increase in tolerance or the beginning of an addiction problem. Taking higher doses of the drug would ordinarily mean that the patient is now dependent on painkillers.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is a term with multi-faceted usage. Concerning substance abuse, a person with addiction typically uses drugs or alcohol excessively regularly. An individual may suffer personally damaging effects from being subject to addiction. Addicts gradually begin to lose a range of things, including houses, jobs, and money, as well as their relationships with family, connections with friends, and dealings in a professional setting. Addicts have a distorted perspective of life and anticipate the next drug use and feeling of high.
Researchers in the field of substance abuse have discovered that an addict’s brain differs neurochemically from a healthy brain. Differences are also thought to exist between the brains of persons with addiction and dependence. When a person with drug dependence begins to use drugs to addictive levels, physiological changes begin to occur, and withdrawal symptoms if the person tries to stay off the drugs.
Researchers have also found that an admixture of deficiency with social skills and an individual’s genetic constitution can engender one toward an addiction. Perhaps, this is the basis for the common addiction among children of addicts.
What is the Difference Between Dependence and Addiction?
In reality, addiction and dependence are only a little different as they share a lot of symptoms. The lack of will to disengage from taking a substance, despite the negative effects of the substance, is what defines addiction. Addicts usually find it difficult to fulfill their duties to their families, society, and employers. Typically, addicted people develop tolerance to their substance of abuse and suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance of abuse. The root cause of addiction is the chronic use of an addictive substance.
On the other hand, the classic sign of dependence is a physical reliance on a substance accompanied by signs of tolerance. A drug-dependent person has increased tolerance levels to a substance of abuse and requires increasing dosages to experience the effects of the substance. A person with dependence will also have severe withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop using their substance of abuse. There would be withdrawal symptoms because their body will beg for more of the drug since it is already accustomed to the routine of drug use.
Meanwhile, some differences between addiction and dependence are that signs of dependence can be felt physically, whereas physical, emotional, and behavioral signs are evident in addiction. Also, a dependent individual is an addict. On the other hand, an individual dependent on a substance may not be, however, addicted to the substance. Furthermore, dependence frequently precedes addiction. In this light, it becomes crucial to identify the signs of addiction and dependence so that an individual is not wrongly classified into either class.
How to Find Treatment for Addiction and Dependence to Drugs or Alcohol
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We believe in the comprehensive treatment of the mind, body, and spirit. Our holistic approach guides clients to begin a fresh chapter in their lives. If you’re ready to create positive change in your life, we will help you every step of the way. We’re dedicated to achieving positive outcomes. Contact Seven Arrows Recovery today to learn more about how our program can help you overcome addiction or substance abuse.