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Addiction vs Dependence: Differences In Drug Abuse Terms

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It also results in withdrawal symptoms when usage is reduced or discontinued. Each situation is unique, so knowing whether you or a loved one are experiencing dependence, addiction, or both can make all the difference in how you’ll proceed. Underlying mental health issues can also accompany dependence and addiction. In these cases, holistic, integrated addiction treatment is required.

  • The scientific construct of addiction has a rich and evolving history.
  • Chemical dependency is broader and may include other physical signs like an increasing tolerance to the substance, or withdrawal symptoms when someone tries to quit or cut down on using it.
  • There has been an evolving understanding that substance misuse relates to a complex set of variables that includes a person’s genetics as well as physical, mental, emotional and social factors.
  • Addictions are more likely to result in serious harm, including suicide, unlike tolerance and physical dependence.

ICD codes have not been updated to reflect current understanding of addiction, unlike those in the DSM-5. Treatment for substance use disorder involves addressing both addiction and dependence. Therapy, support groups, and medication-assisted treatment are commonly used approaches to treat the psychological aspects of addiction. However, when it comes to treating physical dependence, a gradual tapering of the substance is often necessary to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms. Dependence is defined as a psychological and physical reliance on a substance and losing control of substance abuse.

The Connection Between Addiction and Dependence

Just like with other diseases, sometimes you need multiple treatments or repeat treatments. Dr. Kevin Wandler of Advanced Recovery Systems warns https://ecosoberhouse.com/ that addictive drugs, such as nicotine, can cause dependence. Connect with thousands of patients and caregivers for support and answers.

For example, if a person is arrested for using drugs and leaves jail to pick up more, they’ve likely developed an addiction. Addiction causes individuals to act erratic or irrational when they cannot get more of their drug of choice. Today, the APA classifies substance use disorders as mild, moderate, or severe.

Different Parts of the Brain Affected

Adolescents are using tobacco at higher rates than they did in 1991. This increase is reflected in the report that, every day, 3,000 children and teens begin smoking.12 The 1995 NHSDA reported also that, every day in 1994, approximately 6,300 individuals began using marijuana. The 1995 data reflect a continuing increase in the use of hallucinogens and inhalants, as well as marijuana, among the nation’s youth. Once mental dependence develops, triggers in your environment can cause brain changes that influence addictive behavior. Your trigger may be a person, place, or an emotional response to a specific event.

addiction vs dependence

What these opioid overdoses show, according to an article in Scientific American, is how increased tolerance of the drug can lead to higher chemical dependence on the side effects. The pain-killing effects of the drug bring about higher tolerance levels. And as the user takes higher amounts to feed this side, the secondary effects of respiratory depression (slowed down breathing or lack of breathing) and breathing are doubled or tripled. It is in this so-called differential tolerance where the users usually overdose. For instance, someone who is on a prescription for pain medication may find that he needs increasing amounts of dosage for the medication to work. Some doctors may diagnose this as an increasing tolerance, or it might be disguised as the possible start of an addiction issue.

Understanding dependence & addiction

If you or someone close to you is struggling with substance misuse or abuse, talk to your doctor. Regardless of what term you use to describe a substance misuse issue, Mr. Kump emphasizes that the key is to understand that treatment is available. Alcohol, on the other hand, often follows a slower, more insidious path of abuse before the body becomes dependent on it. And it is the most misused drug in the United States, Mr. Kump says. Most people today seem to use the terms “addiction” and “dependency” interchangeably.

The proposed changes to DSM-IV have been listed on the American Psychiatric Association website with an invitation for public comment, and we received in all about 8000 with about 500 specifically on substance-related disorders. The comments were reviewed by the Substance Related Disorders Working Group and the final version will be tested in a field trial later this year. The leading source to diagnose and understand addiction comes from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

After much discussion and debate, the word ‘dependence’ was chosen by the margin of a single vote. Addiction is in its own category and is characterized as changes in behavior, which are caused by the biochemical changes in our brain due to prolonged substance abuse. Getting and using drugs become the main focal point in the person’s life, despite any and all consequences that may follow.

The purposeful use of the term “Addictive Disorders” in the naming of this chapter was primarily due to the addition of “gambling disorder” to the DSM, a non-substance-related disorder. And here, too, among the committee members, the decision to introduce the term “addictive” into the DSM-5 was arrived at through disagreements and non-consensus. However, other forms of drug dependence can cause significant withdrawal symptoms.

Addiction vs. Dependence: Unpacking the Differences

If you feel your medication brings more harm than good, talk with your healthcare team. BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor. Addiction is a physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity. When someone is dependent, their body adapts to a drug and requires more of it to achieve the same effect. No longer taking that drug produces symptoms, including withdrawal syndrome.