What’s the Difference Between Dependence and Addiction?

The definition of addiction as the inability to stop consuming a harmful substance, no matter its effects on social, economical, or personal obligations is significantly different than that of physical dependence, though the two often go hand in hand. According to researchers, physical dependency often happens when drugs are used repeatedly, and can include a number of symptoms that are strikingly similar to addiction. Addiction, then, is the mental inability to stop, while dependency is the body’s natural reaction to the repeated consumption of a substance.
Dependency often leads to addiction, as once the body has become used to a substance to the point of needing it, it is only a matter of time in which the brain will follow suit and begin requiring it as well.
It is rather difficult to tell the difference between the two in a clinical setting, and professionals state that when it comes to prescribing medications, there are occasionally instances in which what is really dependency and tolerance is treated as addiction. This is why it is advisable to know the symptoms of both dependency and addiction. While it is wise to get help in either case, knowing whether you are addicted or not will allow clinicians to take the right steps in diagnosing and treating you.
Dependency is often paired with symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal. A substance-dependent person may not necessarily crave a substance all the time, and they  may be able to go without for longer than one might expect. However, if they do not get their fix sooner rather than later, their body will start to display signs of need. Headaches, loss of appetite, sleeplessness, and similar reactions all point to dependence. The dependent person may very well know that what he or she is doing is bad and should stop, but their body is no doubt telling them otherwise.
Addiction is right around the corner, and marks the psychological impact of dependence. The individual that is addicted to a substance no longer has control of their pleasure system, and cannot simply say no or “hold off” for days on end without serious consequences. This person usually uses several times a day, or in large amounts a day, and may even go to great lengths to get the drugs that their mind has told them they cannot live without. Besides feeling the usual withdrawal and tolerance symptoms that dependent users feel, these individuals also exhibit odd and erratic behaviors, become different versions of themselves, and may not be aware of their issue.

Whether substance-dependent or substance-addicted, you don’t deserve to let anything else control your life any longer. At Oceanfront Recovery, we’re in the business of putting you back in charge. Call us at (877)279-1777 before it’s too late.