Is Substance Dependence The Same As Addiction

Alcohol and drug dependence

Addiction vs. Dependence: Unveiling the Variances in Substance Use

There are many different terms that people use when it comes to substance abuse. Two of these terms include addiction and dependence. While many people may use these terms interchangeably, there is a technical difference between the two.

What is Addiction

The term addiction refers to the behavior that causes someone to continue to abuse substances despite negative consequences on his or her life. Over time, people who suffer from addiction become self-destructive,  because they can’t stop even when they want to. 

People who suffer from addictions to substances also experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using drugs. In fact, people with substance addictions will start to feel withdrawal symptoms when they lower their dose of drug use. This is because people develop an increased tolerance to their substances of choice. That means they need more to get the same effect.

Trying to avoid feeling withdrawal symptoms is the reason people struggle to stop using drugs. Other characteristic traits include constantly thinking about getting and/or using drugs, hiding one’s drug use, isolating oneself from others, and blacking out when using drugs.

What is Dependence

Dependence refers to the psychological and physical reliance on alcohol or substances. Those who suffer from substance dependence need to continue to use substances to avoid withdrawal symptoms and feel psychologically and/or physically normal. 

The Difference Between Addiction and Dependence

While the definition of substance dependence may seem like the same as addiction, there are distinct differences between the two. One major one is that, while people who suffer from substance dependence have built up some level of tolerance to their substances of choice and need to continue to use substances to avoid feeling withdrawal symptoms, they aren’t experiencing negative consequences due to their drug use at the level that individuals who suffer from substance addictions are. 

People with drug dependence can still function normally throughout their lives. 

Dependence And Addiction Go Together

As previously mentioned, increased tolerance and experiencing withdrawal symptoms are two of the traits of addiction. Thus, because substance dependence is also characterized by an increased drug tolerance and physical and/or psychological dependence on drugs due to experiencing withdrawal symptoms, all individuals who suffer from drug addiction also suffer from drug dependence. 

On the other hand, not all individuals who suffer from drug dependence suffer from substance addiction. If a person continues to abuse drugs while being dependent on them though, they’ll likely soon develop a drug addiction.

Physical Dependence vs. Addiction

Individuals who suffer from a physical dependence on substances need to continue to abuse drugs to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms. While all individuals who suffer from substance addictions also suffer from physical drug dependency, not all people who are physically dependent on drugs are addicted to them. This is because addiction is also characterized by changes in behavior and biochemical changes in the brain due to drug use. 

As a result, people who suffer from drug addictions will risk pretty much anything to get and abuse more drugs. Individuals with just a physical dependency on drugs though, will not risk everything or exhibit the same reckless behavior that those with substance addictions will.

Physical Dependence vs. Psychological Dependence

People who suffer from mental dependency on drugs use drugs as a conditioned response to a feeling or event. For example, if a person is mentally conditioned to drink alcohol when anxious, that person will habitually drink anytime he or she experiences anxiety about an upcoming event. This is because the trigger of anxiety causes biochemical changes in that person’s brain that causes him or her to exhibit the behavior of drinking alcohol to cope. 

It’s possible to experience physical dependency to substances without experiencing mental dependency to substances, and vice versa. When a person simultaneously experiences both physical and mental dependence on drugs though, that person then technically suffers from a substance addiction, otherwise known as a substance use disorder.

Substance Dependence vs. Substance Abuse

Just like there’s a difference between drug dependence and addiction, there’s also a difference between substance dependence and substance abuse. Substance abuse is the early stage of drug dependency. As substance abuse worsens, it becomes substance dependency. Then, as substance dependency worsens, it becomes addiction.

Signs of a Substance Use Disorder 

The earlier one treats his or her substance use disorder, the better. To pick up on whether or not someone suffers from a substance use disorder, pay attention to the following signs

  • Increased drug cravings
  • Obsessing about drug use
  • Using drugs before work
  • Inability to stop using drugs even after repeated attempts
  • Doing extreme things to get more drugs
  • Increased drug tolerance
  • Exhibiting relationship issues due to drug use
  • Having legal problems due to drug use
  • Using substances to avoid withdrawal symptoms
  • Exhibiting reckless behavior
  • Exhibiting changes in one’s appearance
  • Isolating oneself from others

Common Substance Use Disorders

There are countless drugs that a person can abuse and develop a drug dependency or addiction to. Some of the more common types of substance use disorders include the following:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Marijuana addiction
  • Cocaine addiction
  • Heroin addiction
  • Opioid addiction
  • Benzo addiction
  • Fentanyl addiction
  • Meth addiction

Substance Use Disorder Treatment

Individuals who suffer from any kind of substance use disorder should receive substance abuse treatment. Many rehab facilities offer a wide array of specialized, substance abuse treatment programs. 

For example, some rehab centers offer various women’s and men’s drug rehab programs. That way, rehab patients can feel more comfortable expressing themselves while in treatment. Having rehab programs separated by gender also give both men and women the opportunity to receive care that caters to their gender’s needs.

Most rehab facilities also offer treatment programs that are separated by substance. For example, individuals with alcohol use disorders will likely attend alcohol addiction treatment programs, while individuals with heroin addictions will likely attend heroin addiction treatment programs. 

Receive Treatment for Your Addiction or Dependency Issues Today

Because people who suffer from substance addiction also suffer from substance dependence, individuals receiving treatment for their substance use disorders at detox and rehab facilities can simultaneously treat their drug dependency issues. 

Individuals with just drug dependency issues can also receive care at most drug detox and rehab facilities since drug detox and addiction treatment programs also focus on treating the issues that people with dependency suffer from. Drug detox centers in particular are great at treating dependency issues.

There are quality detox centers and rehab facilities across the country that can help you overcome your substance addiction and dependency issues. For example, if you want to receive treatment for your addiction and/or dependency issues in Washington state, you can do so at Bayview Recovery Center. 

You can contact Bayview Recovery over the phone or by web message. The Bayview Recovery employees will gladly answer any questions that you may have and help you enroll in an appropriate treatment program. Recovery is only a phone call away.

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