There is a fine line between addiction and dependence, but there is a difference between the two. Dependence usually refers to the physical reliance of the body on a substance. It is defined as “being controlled, influenced or reliant on someone or something else.”
Addiction, on the other hand, generally means the abuse of a substance. It is defined by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as a “primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.”
How can you tell if you are dependent on a substance or addicted to it? It might be difficult to tell, and if there is any doubt, we recommend that you find help. It is better to manage a dependence issue before it turns into addiction.
You Might Be Dependent on Your Substance If…
If you were prescribed a medication by your doctor, over time, you might begin relying on that medication. Prescription opiates like oxycodone, codeine, and morphine, as well as tranquilizers like Xanax are habit forming, meaning the person can become physically dependent on them. An easy way to tell if you are dependent on a substance is to go without it for a time, and if after a day or even a few hours you begin to feel withdrawal symptoms, you are likely dependent.
Withdrawal symptoms can range from minor to severe, depending on the drug and the person using it. Some medications can cause sleepiness or headaches when stopped. Others cause severe pain and flu-like symptoms, or even convulsions or seizures. In general, if you have used your prescription as direction and not for an extended period of time, your dependence on the medication won’t be too severe, and you should be able to wean off the drug as directed by a doctor without a problem.
You Might Be Addicted If…
However, if you have overused or misused your prescription, or have taken it longer than directed or for reasons other than prescribed, you might be crossing the line into addiction. Even though dependence and addiction are closely connected, addiction means something much more serious. If you misuse or abuse drugs, you are risk for addiction. Someone who is addicted to a substance will be dependent on it, but will also exhibit drug-seeking behavior, and continue to find ways to keep getting that feeling of euphoria.
Addiction doesn’t care what substance the person is using, and many addicts will switch from drug to drug to find one that is easier to obtain or gives a better high. Over time the addiction will take over their life, making it difficult to hold down a job, be responsible with family duties, or carry on a relationship. All that matters is the substance.
Withdrawing from a substance in the case of addiction is more difficult. In many cases the person will be using large amount of the drug, making it dangerous to quit unless under the care of a medical staff. Withdrawing from alcohol and sedatives can be particularly dangerous, and should only be done in a medical detox facility.
After detox is complete, the addict will need to go through therapy and counseling to undo the psychological damage the addiction has caused. A drug and alcohol rehab program will help the recovering addict learn tools to manage their drug cravings and to prevent relapsing back into the addiction.
Find Help for Dependence and Addiction
Do you struggle with drug dependence? Do you wonder if you are becoming addicted? If you are concerned about your drug use at all, we recommend that you find help from a professional. They can assess your situation and help you find the best way to get drug-free. Don’t let a drug dependence turn into addiction and control your life. The best time to get help is now, before it escalates into something that is difficult to stop.
My Recovery Helper connects individuals with treatment programs that can help them get their lives back. Contact us today at 855.601.4935 to speak to an addiction counselor and to find help today.