What Is the Difference Between Addiction and Dependence?

Addiction vs. Dependence

The difference between addiction and dependence can be challenging to understand, especially because different organizations have their own definitions of the words or will use them inconsistently or interchangeably.

In 2013, the American Psychological Association (APA) used to classify substance abuse as a separate disorder from dependence, but now, along with dependency and addiction, defines it as a “substance use disorder” or “SUD,” while the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) changed substance abuse from its own separate disorder to an early indicator on the spectrum of dependence. It isn’t easy to know the correct term and when it should be used with ongoing research and the ever-changing distinctions. Keep reading to learn some easy ways to understand the difference between addiction and dependence.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a change in behavior that happens after the brain is chemically altered by a substance, causing people to stop behaving in their own best interest instead of acting irrationally, regardless of the harm they end up pushing themselves and others. In the case of drug or alcohol addiction, the substance becomes all the addicted person can think about, like an obsession.

What Is Dependence?

Generally speaking, when people say somebody has a “dependence” on a substance, they usually mean a physical dependence, meaning the body needs it to function normally. This dependence occurs after the substance is used, creating a tolerance increase as the brain becomes used to having the substance in the body.

It is also possible to have a mental dependence on behavior, and this occurs when the brain’s chemistry is altered by dopamine hits produced by performing various activities. Some examples of things people become mentally dependent upon include pornography, food, exercise, gambling, and even video games.

People who have a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol will experience withdrawal symptoms, and the brain can become “triggered” as a response to a feeling or stimulus that stimulates the desire to use the substance or carry out a specific behavior. When it comes to dependence, being triggered can feel like a tightness in the stomach, nervousness or anxiety, and the feeling of an intense desire to use the substance or behave in ways that may not be healthy.

How Are Addiction and Dependence Different?

You can have a physical dependence without an addiction, although addiction will soon follow if this is the case. Addiction is the presence of mental and physical dependence and uncontrollable behavior that results in obtaining and using the substance or performing the behavior. A person with support who is not addicted may be able to control their actions and abstain from, or moderate their use of the substance or behavior, even when triggered.

WhiteSands Addiction Treatment Center

At the WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we treat physical symptoms of addiction and employ various treatment methods that include behavioral therapy, counseling, education, health, and wellness to treat all differences between addiction and dependence. We help our patients get to the underlying root of the addiction to grow and change their mindset to incorporate healthy behaviors and coping mechanisms into their lives.

We have luxury amenities like spa treatments, a swimming pool, holistic and alternative care, and even a full-sized boxing gym with trainers. Our patients enjoy private rooms with their own private bathrooms, and cell phone and laptop use is allowed.

For more information on luxury addiction treatment and detox and rehab for substance use disorders and the difference between addiction and dependence, contact WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today. We can help you become the person you want to be without the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.