Addiction vs dependence: Definitions and differences

Could someone who is dependent on alcohol or drugs be diagnosed as having an addiction? The terms “addiction” and “dependence” are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between the two. RehabPath is an independent organization that simplifies finding the best mental health and addiction treatment. Comprehensive profiles of over 2,500 rehab centers include insurance coverage, pricing, photos, reviews, and more. Dependence also affects your physical health, whether or not you have an addiction.

  • An exclusive and confidential rehab focusing on the root cause of addiction—offering daily individual sessions and a holistic approach in a luxurious setting.
  • These changes are anticipated to improve clarification and diagnosis and treatment of substance use and related disorders.
  • In most cases, addiction is determined by noticeable negative consequences to one’s life.
  • The opioid crisis is so bad that the U.S. government declared a public health emergency.
  • It’s important to realize that addiction is a chronic disorder that can result in relapse.
  • One of the main medical texts that are used by mental health professionals to diagnose addiction is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM), which is currently in its fifth edition.

A person who is addicted is no longer taking a drug to feel its effects but rather to escape withdrawal and feel normal. Whereas dependence is mostly a physical reliance on a substance, addiction is more all-encompassing and includes not only a physical reliance but a mental and emotional one as well. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco all exert certain effects on the brain and its reward system. The pleasurable feelings that come from smoking, drinking, and taking drugs can reinforce the desire for those substances. But large-scale studies during the last two decades revealed a population of people who were having problems because they took drugs and drank too much alcohol.

Addiction vs. dependence: What is the difference?

Some organizations may have different names or definitions or use the words interchangeably, which causes mass confusion. The term substance use disorder (SUD) is the preferred way of saying it in the scientific community. Since consistency is lacking, it’s important to establish some ground rules. Common signs of addiction include obsessively thinking about the substance or behavior, being unable to stop acting on cravings, having withdrawals when you attempt to quit, and isolating yourself or hiding the behavior in question. Addiction affects the way you think and behave, and it may involve substances or behaviors such as drugs, alcohol, sex, internet use, and gambling.

addiction vs dependence

David Hawkins, Ph.D., director of the Social Development Research Group at the University of Washington. “We know we can make a difference through our concerted actions,” Hawkins says. He cites declines in rates of drinking and driving and of adult tobacco use as examples of the success due to changes in social norms. Although men are more likely to smoke, drink, and use drags, women become addicted more quickly and develop diseases related to substance abuse more quickly than men do, according to a recent CASA report, Substance Abuse and the American Woman.

Addiction treatment and recovery

Fortunately, by exploring drug addiction treatment options, a person can take the first step to beating his or her addiction. I suppose that some people would have an addiction problem if they were to take some of the meds I take. I’ve never had a problem with addiction vs dependence addiction, to drugs or alcohol or nicotine or a behavioral addiction. Additionally, undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues, such as depression, can be a predictor of eventual reliance on substances for self-management of negative affective states.

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