Addiction vs Dependence
Verify Insurance

Addiction vs Dependence


Get Started

The terms addiction and dependence are often used interchangeably when discussing substance abuse, although they are two separate aspects. Addiction and dependence have distinct symptoms, and one can occur without the other, even though it is more common for a person to experience both simultaneously. Substance abuse disorder is usually diagnosed in people who have developed both an addiction and a dependence on a particular substance.

What is the Difference Between Addiction and Dependence?

Despite being two different conditions, addiction and dependence are closely related. The lines between the two conditions can not also be readily apparent. Addiction and dependence often coincide, but either one can develop without the other. Usually, if one has developed in a person, the other will begin shortly after. If a person becomes addicted to a substance but has not yet seen signs of dependence, they should seek help as soon as possible before a dependence forms.

Substance dependence is the body’s reaction to extended use of a substance. Typical results of substance dependence are the development of a tolerance to the substance and withdrawal symptoms if substance use stops. As the body continues to take in a substance, it will naturally begin to build up a tolerance. This will make a person use a substance in larger amounts and more often to achieve the desired effects. 

Addiction usually refers to a chemical change that occurs within the brain from substance use. This change makes it difficult for a person to stop using, even if they want to. This is also what makes a person potentially act recklessly to obtain a substance if it is not readily available. Addiction is also what often causes a person to feel intense cravings and urges to use drugs or alcohol.

pexels pok rie 268261 1024x683 1 AM Healthcare

Signs of Drug Dependence

There are two ways drug dependence forms. Mental dependence is defined by emotions or feelings caused by substance use. Symptoms of a mental dependence on a substance include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Paranoia
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness

Physical dependence, therefore, are the symptoms associated with a drug dependence that affects a person’s body. Signs of physical dependence of a substance include:

  • Headaches
  • Stomach issues, such as nausea or vomiting
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation or diarrhea
  • Muscle aches and joint pain
  • Shaking, twitching, or tremors
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Sweating

Signs of Drug Addiction

Addiction primarily presents itself as behavioral changes caused by substance use. Unlike dependence, which causes physical or emotional symptoms, addiction changes how a person thinks and behaves. Signs of drug addiction include:

  • Feeling the need to seek out or use a substance
  • Thinking about using drugs or alcohol for much of the day
  • Having obsessive thoughts about substance use at the cost of relationships or social activities
  • Losing control of your actions when related to substance use
  • Hiding the use of substances
  • Feeling defensive about substance use when questioned or confronted
francisco moreno wuo8KnyCm4I unsplash 1024x669 1 AM Healthcare

Substance Abuse Disorder DSM 5

The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-5, is a book used by medical professionals to diagnose a variety of different disorders. Substance use disorder is one mental health condition that often uses the DSM-5 during the diagnosis process. 

The DSM-5 lists eleven symptoms that represent a substance abuse problem. A medical professional will evaluate a person’s symptoms based on these eleven criteria during the diagnosis process. The eleven criteria of a substance abuse disorder are:

  • Taking a substance in larger doses or for a longer amount of time than intended
  • Feeling that you need to cut down or stop substance use but failing to do so
  • Spending a significant amount of time seeking out, using, or recovering from substance use
  • Experiencing cravings or urges to use a substance
  • Failing to meet obligations at home, work, or school as a result of substance use
  • Continuing to use substances despite it causing problems at home or in relationships with others
  • Self-isolating or losing interest in social and recreational activities as a result of substance use
  • Continuing to use substances despite the fact that it puts you in danger
  • Continuing to use substances despite having a physical or psychological that can be worse by substance use
  • Building up a tolerance to substance use, meaning that you need to use more often or in larger amounts to achieve the desired effects
  • Developing of withdrawal symptoms that will occur when substance use stops

Not only is the DSM-5 used for diagnosis, but it can also be used to determine the severity of the disorder. For example, if a person displays two or three of the above symptoms, they would be diagnosed with a mild substance abuse disorder. Four or five symptoms suggest a moderate condition, and six or more symptoms represent a severe disorder. 

Drug Addiction and Dependence Treatment

Depending on the severity of the dependence, a detoxification program may be required at the beginning of treatment. Detox programs are designed to help someone deal with the withdrawal symptoms that can occur once drug use stops. Some people may feel that they can deal with withdrawal on their own, but that is not recommended. Withdrawal can be incredibly challenging and potentially dangerous and should be done with the support and assistance of medical professionals.

Substance abuse treatment should always be catered to the needs of the individual. Each person in recovery may respond differently to various types of treatment, so no one treatment program will work for everyone.

Psychotherapy options, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy, can be beneficial in the treatment of substance abuse. Group meetings, such as SMART Recovery or 12-step programs, maybe helpful tools for people who find group support helpful.

If you or a loved one may be suffering from substance abuse disorder, the first step is to seek a medical professional’s help. Getting help with addiction treatment is a vital step in the recovery process. Symptoms associated with withdrawal are often challenging and can be dangerous to face alone. Treatment facilities can help guide you through the initial stages of the recovery process safely and effectively.

At Los Angeles Sober, we believe in finding the recovery method that will work best for you. Every person has different needs when it comes to addiction treatment, and not one thing will work for all people. We can find the facility and program that best fits your needs to receive the best chance at recovery possible. Please reach out to us at 818-383-1297 to learn more about substance abuse treatment options.

Find Safety in 

Call (866) 352-6898

Contact Us

General Contact Form