What is the Difference Between Dependence and Addiction?

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What is the Difference Between Dependence and Addiction?

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction and dependence, it’s important that you understand the difference between dependence and addiction and where you can get help. 

The most significant difference between dependence and addiction is that dependence refers to a physical dependence where your body is physically dependent on a substance, and addiction is categorized as a disease. They typically exist in tandem, referring to the mental health aspect of addiction and physical dependence. Regardless, you can get help for dependence and addiction; at the same time, customized to meet your level of tolerance, the substances you use, and your personal preferences.

What is Drug Dependence?

Firstly, dependence might seem like the same thing, but there are some differences between addiction and dependence.

  • Dependence is when a person has reached a point in addiction that they cannot stop using. 
  • They might be aware that they have a problem; they might also know that it’s hurting themselves or their family.
  • Whatever substances they are using have changed their brain function and how their body responds, making it almost impossible to stop independently.
  • They typically withdraw from social activities and hobbies and spend most of their time associated with drugs or alcohol.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a medical brain disorder that comes from regular drug or alcohol use. 

  • Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder defined by repetitive drug seeking and use, despite known adverse health and social effects.
  • Addiction usually results in bad decisions like driving under the influence, getting into legal trouble, missing school or work because drugs or alcohol were more important, and having financial problems.

What is the Difference Between Dependence and Addiction?

So what is the difference between dependence and addiction?

There are a few. Primarily, addiction and dependence are often related. When people cultivate an addiction, they repeat the same behavior.

Addiction can apply to just about anything. Someone who is addicted to alcohol might consume drinks every day, but each time they do, the alcohol changes their brain structure and function. The more often a person drinks or the worst their addiction is, the more extreme these changes become. Over time these changes can be so significant that the person is physically dependent on alcohol and can’t function without it.

Addiction and dependence can be viewed as a chicken or an egg scenario. Someone can be addicted to things like social activities, which leads to regular alcohol consumption and physical dependence. By the same token, someone else might be given a prescription for opioids after surgery and, within a few weeks, experience withdrawal symptoms. Those withdrawal symptoms indicate dependence. But that same person immediately stopped taking them because their prescription was over, and they were healed from the surgery.

Regardless, dependence is the physical manifestation, while addiction is the disease. So the biggest difference between addiction and dependence is that they represent two sides of a coin: physical dependence and psychological addiction. 

How to Find Treatment for Addiction and Dependence on Drugs or Alcohol

If you are struggling with addiction and dependence, you can find help. It doesn’t matter if you are the person who recently got a prescription from a doctor after surgery and now you’re struggling with your withdrawal symptoms or if you’re the person who has struggled with addiction to half a dozen different illegal substances over the last ten years. You can find addiction treatment.

At Marina Harbor, we help you identify the signs of drug dependence or addiction. We can work with you to figure out whether you are consuming larger amounts of drugs and alcohol than you should, how strong your cravings are, and whether your dependents or addiction is interfering with your personal or professional responsibilities.

We can create a personalized rehab program for you that best fits your needs with all of that in mind. Once you are fully aware of the social, family, and psychological problems that ongoing drug use is having, let us guide you through your initial drug detox, inpatient, and outpatient rehab care. 

Our San Francisco rehab facility provides treatment based on your age, mental health, physical health, addiction and dependence withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, preferences, and more. Each person struggles with addiction in a different way, and each person deserves a personalized therapy plan that integrates holistic treatment and evidence-based practice to target underline factors that may have contributed to your current situation and give you the skills you need to move beyond it.

At Marina Harbor, we can help you get treatment for your disease. Contact us today to learn more about our Northern California inpatient and detox programs. Marina Harbor can provide traditional and holistic treatment in the San Francisco area.