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Are drug and alcohol addiction and dependence the same thing?

Jun 26

When people say they’re “dependent,” they usually mean it in terms of addiction to a substance. Dependence is characterized by symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal. You can be addicted without being addicted to something physical as well. One cannot deny the fact that addiction can happen at any time.

Addiction is the result of biochemical changes in the brain caused by continued substance abuse. It becomes much more important for an addict to continue using the substance than to take care of themselves or other people.

Individuals with an addiction often have to act irresponsibly when they don’t have their addiction's substance in their system.

What is Drug Dependence?

Drug dependence can be defined by the effects it has on you. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), drug dependence is defined by the presence of withdrawal symptoms when a person stops using drugs.

Withdrawal symptoms vary based on the substance being used, but they are often uncomfortable. For example, symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include headaches and irritability, whereas opioid withdrawal can produce life-threatening symptoms like rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, and seizures.

It's important to note that tapering off of a drug is typically required rather than stopping abruptly. Tapering off means spacing the doses out more thinly, giving the body time to adjust to healing from drug dependence. The presence of dependence does not automatically indicate addiction, but it is a symptom or consequence of addiction.

What is Addiction?

Most addiction experts would agree that being addicted is not a desirable state of being. Some would also say that it's a chronic condition, like having diabetes. Drug dependence on the other hand is when someone's physical and mental wellbeing are so closely linked to drug use that it can be difficult to stop. Drug addiction is a chronic brain condition caused by various factors, including genetics, life experiences and social environment.

What does it mean to be in addiction recovery?

You're doing well and deserve the respect and love of your family, friends, and communities. If you manage to sobriety after having received treatment for addiction or behavioral health condition, congratulations! However if at some point you relapse- that's okay. You are still in recovery. Because there are always so many people in recovery, it's easy to feel isolated and disconnected from the world. It's not meant to be this way; you deserve a sense of community and happiness. Get Directions Link

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