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Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Is it addiction or dependence? You could find these words used synonymously, but they mean different things when you're referring to substance use. If you find yourself or someone you care about in a battle to quit alcohol or drugs, it can be beneficial to understand the differences between dependence vs addiction. This information can assist you in finding the most suitable treatment when you’re ready to seek help.

What Is Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence alludes to the physical symptoms you encounter when your bodily system becomes used to a mind-altering substance. Alcohol and drugs include strong chemicals. When using them regularly, your system becomes acclimated to those chemicals and adjusts its chemistry in response. It will eventually rely on that substance to function normally.

Whenever you are dependent, you may build a tolerance, which means you need larger quantities of a substance to realize its effects. You’ll also notice negative effects when you no longer use a substance you are dependent upon. Your body has a response to the lack of those chemicals, and you endure physical discomfort. These symptoms are known as withdrawal and could include:

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

The acuteness of withdrawal is based on the substance you have a dependence on, how much you were using it, and for how long you’ve experienced dependency. For instance, skipping your daily coffee may lead to an annoying headache if you are dependent on caffeine. However, a narcotics dependency could cause more worrisome withdrawal symptoms like muscle pain and vomiting.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction can look very similar to dependence; although, addiction is psychological dependence rather than physical. Whenever you experience addiction, you feel powerfully compelled to take a substance. Addictive alcohol and drugs may change your brain’s reward circuitry, so you only feel enjoyment when you have those substances in your system. Your brain wants those chemicals. This creates obsessive substance use. You are unable to focus on anything until you’ve obtained the substance. You can’t control the urge to use whatever you’re addicted to.

The chief difference between dependence vs addiction is that with dependence, you may not experience the urge to take a substance, but you get ill if you don’t. With addiction, your mind lets you know that you need to take the substance even when you don’t feel physically unwell when not using it. Dependence can bring on addiction, so you can have both the mental and physical need for a drug.

How Does Treatment Differ For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s important to note that both dependence and addiction can destroy your life. Both might result in life-threatening illnesses and hazardous behaviors. And both addiction and dependence must be addressed to prevail over substance use.

If you discover that your mind or body won’t allow you to stop using either alcohol or drugs, you need specialized medical support to detox and stay sober. Just know, not every detox center treats both dependence and addiction. Quite a few will treat the physical symptoms of dependency and withdrawal without managing the mental aspects of addiction.

If you know you need addiction services, look for a treatment facility like Sunrise Detox Fort Lauderdale that offers both psychological and medical treatment. Our licensed professionals will help you feel comfortable and safe while your body clears itself of drugs or alcohol. With the symptoms of either dependence or addiction under control, it’s easier to avoid relapse and sustain sobriety for the next recovery steps.

Start Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Fort Lauderdale

No matter if you have a dependency, addiction, or both, Sunrise Detox Fort Lauderdale can help. Place a call to (954) 869-9759 or complete the form below, and we will answer right away. We’ll arrange a private consultation about the kind of substance use support you require and our admission procedure. Contact us at any hour, and we’ll always respond. We’re here to speak with you right now.