Differences Between Substance Abuse, Dependence, & Addiction

You should never avoid or delay seeking professional health care advice or services based on information obtained from our website. Once you have a tolerance, you might start taking higher doses to get the same effect. You might also become physically dependent on the drug, and feel withdrawal symptoms if you try to quit. Many people keep using drugs to avoid those withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, drug dependence and addiction are accompanied by underlying mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, eating, trauma, and stress-related disorders.

Working with a health care professional will allow you to explore the options to treat your addiction. Fortunately, Volkow and her colleagues’ argument carried the day with the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 committee in 2013. Additional training in assessment and diagnosis for physician trainees at the medical school level is also needed. Most medical schools only devote a few hours over four years to teaching addiction medicine, a mere fraction of the time devoted to other chronic diseases encountered in general practice [8]. As a result, many physicians are ill-equipped to differentiate addiction from dependence due to a lack of expertise.

Symptoms and Signs of Addiction

For example, substance abuse could involve a college student who uses drugs or alcohol regularly and takes these in excess — often mixed with other substances. Abuse, in this case, is excessive use of drugs in a way that is hazardous and can interfere with school or home life. A boutique residential treatment center providing personalized, holistic care for substance use and co-occurring disorders taking only 6 people at a time. Treating addiction and underlying mental health conditions with customized care and a comprehensive range of therapies on a vast 12-acre campus in the Rockies. People used to believe that addiction only happened in certain areas, like in inner cities, or among specific groups of people, like those who were down and  out. But addictions can happen anywhere, from college campuses to rural and suburban towns.

addiction vs dependence

‘Dependence’ is a term used to describe a person’s physical and psychological loss of control due to substance abuse. If a person uses many drugs and develops a physical dependence on these drugs, that person is usually described as dependent. That alone isn’t always an addiction, but it can accompany addiction. Seeking professional help is essential for individuals dealing with addiction or dependence. Addiction and dependence can be complex conditions that require specialized care and support. Professional treatment providers, such as addiction counselors, therapists, and medical professionals, have the knowledge and expertise to guide individuals towards recovery.

Enabling Health Plans To Meet CalAIM Requirements

For example, it takes just 2-3 doses of opioids9 for some people to develop a tolerance. Treating addiction and co-occurring/primary mental health conditions with expert-led, personalized care at beach-side facilities in Malibu. Dependence on a drug can certainly lead to a substance abuse disorder (SUD).

  • However, the desire to avoid withdrawal is what can eventually lead to addiction.
  • Interestingly, you can also be addicted to a drug without being physically dependent on it.
  • Understanding the relationship between addiction and dependence, as well as the common factors contributing to both, can help individuals and their loved ones navigate these complex conditions.
  • Or they can come on quickly, like what is now happening in the opioid crisis.

Dependence, on the other hand, refers to a physiological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a substance and requires it to function normally. It is characterized by the development of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when the substance is reduced or discontinued. Individuals with addiction often experience intense cravings for the substance and may prioritize obtaining and using it over other aspects of their lives. Addiction can have severe physical, addiction vs dependence psychological, and social consequences, impacting various areas of an individual’s life, including relationships, work, and overall well-being. People with addictions often disproportionately struggle with receiving fair medical coverage and legal rights. Another study found that over 80% of people who are convicted for heroin trafficking are either black or Latino, even though whites use opioids at higher rates than those groups (Scientific American).

Changing the Way We Talk About Drug Addiction

Providing multiple levels of evidence-based care for addiction and dual-diagnoses, with holistic treatment for men, women, executives, and the LGBTQ community. Why have some organizations scrapped addiction from their vocabulary? Well, the phrase carries a negative connotation and is ambiguous, according to the DSM. The World Health Organization also believed it should be replaced with dependence in 1964, which is likely where the confusion stems. Finally, there’s the myth that if you relapse after beating your addiction, you have failed. Just like with other diseases, sometimes you need multiple treatments or repeat treatments.

In addition, stress, trauma, and hardship are also known ‘risk factors’ that make addiction more likely. Even certain personality traits like being naturally more impulsive or neurotic can increase the chances of developing a dependence on drugs or alcohol. …resulted in confusion among clinicians regarding the difference between “dependence” in a DSM (IV) sense, which is really “addiction,” and “dependence” as a normal physiological adaptation to repeated dosing of a medication. The result is that clinicians who see evidence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms assume that this means addiction, and patients requiring additional pain medication are made to suffer. Similarly, pain patients in need of opioid medications may forgo proper treatment because of the fear of dependence, which is self-limiting by equating it with addiction (764–765) [6].

Medical Disclaimer

The opioid crisis is so bad that the U.S. government declared a public health emergency. People who are addicted to a substance use it even if it has no medical benefit. They use the substance no matter what and despite the consequences. Addictions are more likely to result in serious harm, including suicide, unlike tolerance and physical dependence.

  • Physical and psychological dependence on a drug is different, although many with addictions to drugs or alcohol have both.
  • If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol dependence, reach out today to a treatment specialist to explore what treatment options are available.
  • If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or dependence, consider seeking professional assistance to begin the journey towards a healthier and more fulfilling life.
  • If that history lesson sounded confusing, that’s because it is, and there’s no way to simplify what happened.
  • Speak with your doctor if you have become physically dependent on a medication or other substance.
  • Could someone who is dependent on alcohol or drugs be diagnosed as having an addiction?

This conflation of addiction with dependence, which stigmatizes effective medication treatment for opioid use disorder, is even enshrined in law. This can lead to traumatic family surveillance and even separation, not surprisingly disproportionately impacting Black, Latinx, and Native American families because of racist implementation in these reporting https://ecosoberhouse.com/ practices. Detoxification treatment may need to be administered to those with substance dependence due to the dangerous nature of some withdrawal symptoms. Research suggests that no treatment method is superior, but that social support is very important and that organizations such as AA and NA have better than average success rates in reducing relapse.

Consider the case of an emerging marijuana smoker or pill-taker. At first, starting this behavior is an extra activity, but as the user becomes more dependent on the high, it can turn into the main activity. This is where dependency can turn into full-blown addiction—when substance abuse becomes the all-encompassing main priority. However, other forms of drug dependence can cause significant withdrawal symptoms.

addiction vs dependence

What’s important to note is that drug dependence often leads to addiction. That being said, most opioid users do not become addicted to opioids. Understanding the distinction in the language is important in understanding treatments, symptoms, and risks.