Drug & Alcohol Detox Near Atlanta
(678) 928-6557
a woman outside looking at the sunset with hills scenery

Addiction Vs Dependence: Whats The Difference?

May 06, 2024

Dependence or addiction? You might see these terms used as one and the same, but they have different meanings when you're referencing substance use. If you find yourself or someone you care about in a battle to quit alcohol or drugs, it can be helpful to comprehend the difference between dependence vs addiction. This information can help you find the proper treatment when you’re prepared to get help.

What Is A Substance Dependence?

Substance dependence alludes to the physical symptoms you encounter when your body becomes used to a brain-altering substance. Alcohol and drugs include powerful chemicals. When taking them regularly, your system gets accustomed to the chemicals and modifies its chemistry in response. It will eventually rely on that substance to operate normally.

If you have a dependence, you could build a tolerance, meaning you need greater quantities of a substance to feel its effects. You’ll also perceive detrimental effects when you quit using a substance you’re dependent upon. Your body has a response to the deficiency of those chemicals, and you are faced with physical discomfort. These symptoms are known as withdrawal and may include:

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

The acuteness of withdrawal is contingent on the substance you are dependent on, your usage levels and frequency, and for how long you’ve experienced dependency. To illustrate, missing your daily coffee may produce an annoying headache if you have a dependency on caffeine. Conversely, being dependent on narcotics could cause more troubling withdrawal symptoms like insomnia and vomiting.

What Is An Addiction?

Addiction often looks very similar to dependence; but, addiction is psychological dependence and not physiological. When you experience addiction, you feel forcefully compelled to take a substance. Addiction-causing alcohol and drugs can change your brain’s neural circuits, so you only feel good when you use those substances. Your brain hungers for those chemicals. This causes compulsive substance use. You aren’t able to center your attention on anything until you’ve gotten your “fix.” You can’t control the urge to take whatever you’re addicted to.

The chief difference between dependence vs addiction is that with dependence, you may not feel the desire to use a substance, but your body becomes unwell when you don’t. With addiction, your mind informs you that you need to ingest the substance even when you don’t feel physically sick when abstaining from it. Dependence may result in addiction, so you can have both the psychological and physical need for a substance.

How Is Treatment Different For Addiction Vs Dependence?

It’s crucial to understand that both dependence and addiction may damage your life. Both can lead to life-changing medical problems and risky behaviors. And both dependence and addiction must be addressed to conquer substance use.

If you realize that your mind or body won’t let you halt the use of either drugs or alcohol, you need licensed medical assistance to detox and stay sober. But, not every detox facility treats both addiction and dependence. Numerous centers will address the physical symptoms of dependency and withdrawal without addressing the mental facets of addiction.

If you require addiction care, look for a treatment facility like Sunrise Detox Alpharetta that provides both psychological and medical treatment. Our clinicians and staff will help you feel at ease and safe while your body clears itself of drugs or alcohol. With the symptoms of either addiction or dependence managed, it’s easier to stave off relapse and maintain sobriety for the following steps in recovery.

Start Treatment For Addiction And Dependence At Sunrise Detox Alpharetta

No matter if you have a dependency, addiction, or both, Sunrise Detox Alpharetta can help. Place a call to (678) 928-6557 or send in the following form, and we will respond immediately. We’ll set up a private conversation about the type of substance use care you may need and our admission procedure. Make the call at any hour, and we’ll respond, no matter what. We’re here to talk right now.