Dependence vs Addiction Difference Between Dependence And Addiction

If a substance harms you, your relationships, and your obligations, it’s most likely addiction. However, it’s common for physical dependence to accompany addiction. You can be addicted without being dependent and be dependent without having an addiction.

These triggers set off biochemical changes in your brain, which influence addictive behavior. But the ICD has yet to catch up and since American billing systems and other records often rely on ICD, this conflation continues to cause problems both in the United States and rest of the world. There is no justification for keeping this misleading term in light of what we now know about the nature of addiction.

Drug Addiction vs. Drug Dependence

If it is not a prescription medication, your doctor may be able to help you reduce your use of the substance with the least side effects. 2 or 3 years ago I tapered off it to see if it was having an effect on my neuropathy pain. After being off it for two weeks I knew that it was relieving the pain. I had been taking 30mg tid, but when I restarted it I only got up to 15mg tid.

addiction vs dependence

Medical professionals are ethically required to get the diagnosis right so that they can get the treatment right. One of the main medical texts that are used by mental health professionals to diagnose addiction is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM), which is currently in its fifth edition. People can have just a physical dependence, addiction, or both at the same time. This is when a person depends on a substance or behavior emotionally, such as when stressed.


As it worsens and becomes more frequent, the odds of developing a substance use disorder increase dramatically. Could someone who is dependent on alcohol or drugs be diagnosed as having an addiction? The terms “addiction” and “dependence” are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between the two. Mental dependence is when use of a substance is a conditioned response to an event or feeling. These are known as “triggers.” Something as simple as the act of driving can trigger a desire to use. These triggers set off biochemical changes in a person’s brain that strongly influence addictive behavior.

However, most psychological symptoms can be even more challenging for some. Increased agitation, anxiety, and depressed mood can be overwhelming and last for months. Cravings can also be significant, encouraging people to continue using, even if they don’t want to. Treatment must address withdrawal symptoms and potential relapses if it occurs.

Determining Whether You’re Dependent or Addicted

The biggest difference between addiction and dependence is functionality. While a person who is dependent on a drug needs it to feel normal, it’s not creating a lot of chaos in their lives. But an addicted individual will start experiencing problems due to their drug abuse. The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals.

Addiction refers to a psychological compulsion towards substance use, characterized by an intense desire or craving to use a substance despite negative consequences. It is often accompanied by obsessive thoughts, loss of control over usage, and continued use, even when it is harmful or destructive. This meeting of the forum will examine the nature of substance abuse and its impact on the nation. Substance abuse is most prevalent among adults between the ages of 18 and 25, and level of education seems to be an important correlate of abuse. Less-educated people are more likely to engage in heavy use of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. The rate of illegal drug use among African Americans is higher than that of Caucasians, who are more likely to use illegal drugs than are Hispanics, according to the 1995 NHSDA.

Addiction vs Dependence: What is The Difference?

Treatment programs are often based on different theories and philosophies. So, it’s important to consult a doctor to find the best program for your needs. However, the desire to avoid withdrawal is what can eventually lead to addiction. The longer a person uses a drug, the more likely their dependency will become an addiction. He also sees people who have taken heroin without developing an addiction, yet they can’t seem to stop smoking and give up nicotine. You may assume that certain substances are more addictive than others, and that is partially true, Mr. Kump says.

I thought that @johnhans @jimhd @jakedduck1 @rwinney and @sandytoes14 might have some thoughts on this topic of how one knows whether they are addicted or just physically dependent on a medication. Dependence is characterized by tolerance or withdrawal symptoms and can be a consequence of many drugs, such as pain medications, stimulants, and antidepressants. Dependence, on the other hand, describes a physical state in which the body has adapted to regular substance use. This adaptation leads to tolerance, meaning that higher doses of the substance are required to achieve the same effects.

The medical community has typically thought of addiction as abuse of a substance that continues even when there are detrimental consequences, such as losing a job or developing physical issues like kidney damage or ulcers. Abuse and dependence are defined on a scale that measures the time and degree of substance use. As substance abuse becomes more frequent, the likelihood of developing a dependence disorder becomes greater. The difference between addiction and dependence can be difficult to understand.

addiction vs dependence