Dependence or Addiction: Is There a Difference?



When it comes to illicit substances such as meth (or shabu), marijuana, opioids, ecstasy, and cocaine, dependence and addiction may be closely related. However, the two terms have very specific differences.

Illicit substances, or narcotics, are highly controlled and even prohibited substances because of their mind-altering and addictive effects. They have a highly destructive effect on your physical and mental health, as well as your wellness. However, how they play out is often different from person to person.

For example, there are people who use it regularly and develop some form of dependence. However, there are also others who will develop and addiction.

So what is drug dependence?

This typically refers to the physical dependence on a substance. This happens when a person experiences tolerance and withdrawal.

Dependence happens when a person’s reward system is altered by the drugs. They would tend to seek the high that they get from the drug and would ignore the things that used to please them or give them joy. This is why many people who abuse drugs tend to abandon their friends and old habits or hobbies. Their brain would respond to the drug in the same way that the brain responds to being rewarded from eating a good dish, falling in love, watching a good movie, or simply being rewarded.

Soon, their initial hit or dosage won’t be enough. They would want more and more of the substance, and more frequently, to get their desired effect. This becomes tolerance.

Dependence also happens through triggers, when the lack of the substance in the body results to withdrawal symptoms such as shaking, tightness of the stomach, nervousness, anxiety, and restlessness. They would get these withdrawal symptoms depending on the drug they are using.

While dependence is different from addiction, the truth is that when you have dependence, addiction is usually right around the corner.

What is drug addiction?

Addiction develops as a your dependence becomes more acute. What happens is a pattern of physical and emotional responses can step from your dependence, thereby creating debilitating and devastating impacts on various aspects of your life. This can then cause harmful effects not just on your physical and mental health, but also on your relationships, career, reputation, and life in general.

People who have addiction often display these most common characteristics:

  • Extreme and irrational preoccupation on when or how to obtain their next hit or dose
  • Fixating on means to get their fix to the extent of stealing, lying, or neglecting responsibilities
  • Having trouble controlling their impulses and their emotions (aggression, anxiety, paranoia)

There’s a dignified approach to treating dependence and addiction, that’s why Bridges of Hope is here. We are a private and professional addiction treatment center accredited by the Department of Health. Talk to us to learn more: 09175098826.

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