Drug and alcohol addiction and dependence are severe disorders that affect tens of millions of people worldwide. Over 20 million people suffer from substance use disorders yearly in the United States alone. Within the medical and mental health communities, which encompass substance use disorders, the terms “dependence” and “addiction” have often been used interchangeably, adding to the professional and public confusion over what these terms mean. While understanding the difference between dependence vs. addiction can be difficult, this knowledge is essential, especially when seeking treatment for a substance use disorder.
At Spokane Falls Recovery Center, we understand that you may have questions about whether you or a loved one suffers from substance dependence or addiction. Our highly-trained clinical staff is available to help you understand the differences. We offer drug addiction treatment programs that meet your individual needs and provide you with the best opportunity for long-term recovery. Call us today at 844.962.2775 to better understand the differences between substance dependence vs. addiction.
What Is Substance Abuse?
Substance abuse is a serious condition when someone uses alcohol or drugs to cope with life’s stressors. It is more than just occasional overindulgence. It is a dangerous problem that affects many aspects of life and can have long-term repercussions on overall health and well-being. Signs of substance abuse often co-occur with mental health issues, such as:
- Substance dependence
- Substance addiction
This can further complicate an individual’s situation and should be taken into account when assessing the issue. To mitigate further damage, you must seek help if you or someone you know has signs of substance abuse. People can overcome this issue with the proper assistance, treatment, and support and live healthier lives.
At Spokane Falls Recovery Center, we understand the complexities of dependence vs. addiction and aim to help our patients succeed in their journey to sobriety and lasting recovery.
The Differences Between Drug Dependence and Addiction
An individual may be physically or psychologically dependent upon a substance. It is often the case that a person presents with both types of dependence.
What Is Physical Dependence?
Physical dependence occurs when someone uses drugs or alcohol regularly over time. The prolonged use disrupts the brain’s natural chemical balance, forcing the brain to adapt to the substance’s presence. Through this adaption, the brain builds a tolerance to the substance and eventually relies on the presence of the substance to function normally. If a person attempts to quit consuming alcohol and the substance is removed from their system, that can cause an imbalance in their chemical balance—leading them to experience withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms for an individual physically dependent upon a substance can range from mild to severe. Mild symptoms can start within several hours of not consuming the substance and include a broad range of physical, mental, and emotional effects that have:
- Shaky hands
- Nausea or vomiting
Severe withdrawal symptoms usually start within 12 to 24 hours from the last consumption and can last up to two days. These are entirely dependent upon the substance but can include symptoms as severe as hallucination and delusion, heart attacks, and stroke. These are only a few of the many reasons it is always better to seek professional help from a substance use treatment center when attempting to break a physical addiction to a substance.
What Is Psychological Dependence?
Psychological dependence occurs when substance use is tied to a particular feeling or event, referred to as a “trigger.” Triggers are directly linked to each person’s history and vary widely. The common factor is that triggers set off a chemical reaction in the brain that influences a person’s substance dependence. While someone can depend on a substance and not be addicted, it can be considered a warning sign for addiction. If you or someone you know suffers from dependence, use the online form or call 844.962.2775 to speak to a Spokane Falls Recovery Center clinician today.
What Is Addiction?
The term “addiction” can mean using a substance consistently and in excess despite its negative consequences. While just about everyone exposed to prolonged substance use will develop a dependence, not everyone will become addicted. Addiction is similar to dependence in that it physically changes the brain. A key difference is in how addiction affects a person’s behaviors. An addicted individual will act irrationally and compulsively seek out their desired substance, regardless of the potential harm to self or others.
Another important distinction is that addictions can be to non-substances, like gambling or sex addiction. Addiction is a chronic medical disease that is treatable. In seeking addiction treatment, it is important to remember that drug addiction treatment is not one-size-fits-all.
Why Is Understanding the Difference Between Addiction and Dependence Important?
While often used interchangeably, the terms dependence and addiction refer to two very different things. Treatment plans will vary greatly depending on the severity of dependence or addiction. Understanding whether you or a loved one is suffering from dependence or addiction can help you decide when seeking substance use disorder treatment options.
At Spokane Falls Recovery Center, we are committed to helping each of our patients find the best treatment plan for their unique needs. Our experienced clinicians and counselors will assist you in understanding dependence vs. addiction and what type of treatment program is right for you or your loved one. Getting suitable care for addiction is paramount to achieving long-term recovery. Call us today at
Learn More About Substance Dependence and Addiction at Spokane Falls Recovery Center
Professional treatment is essential whether you or a loved one suffers from substance dependence or addiction. Health professionals commonly recommend a combination of addiction treatment therapies for a successful recovery. We utilize evidence-based and holistic approaches to treating substance dependence and addiction at Spokane Falls Recovery Center in Spokane, Washington. Our clinicians partner with each patient to design an individualized recovery plan. To learn more about how you or a loved one may benefit from addiction treatment, contact us using our online form or contact us at 844.962.2775.