Dependence vs Addiction: What’s the Difference?
It’s common to hear the words “dependence” and “addiction” used interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two. Addiction and dependence are two different things. Addiction is a mental disorder characterised by compulsive behaviours or substance use despite harmful consequences. Dependence is when someone needs to keep using a substance to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction can lead to dependence, but the two are not the same. Addiction is a disease that affects the brain, while dependence is a physical reaction to chronic drug use. Alcohol dependence, for example, is when your body becomes physically dependent on alcohol, and you experience withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.
Addiction, on the other hand, is when you have a strong emotional need to drink, take drugs, or engage in certain behaviours (such as chemsex encounters or even something seemingly harmless like shopping) even though it’s harmful to your health or wellbeing. Dependence can lead to addiction, but you can be dependent on a substance without being addicted to it. For example, you may be dependent on insulin if you have diabetes, but that doesn’t mean you’re addicted to insulin.
If you’re struggling with dependence or addiction, it’s important to seek professional help. Many resources are available to help you overcome these problems and live a healthy, productive life.
Treating Addiction and Dependence
Addiction is a chronic brain disease characterised by compulsive drug seeking and use or the inability to stop behaviours despite harmful consequences. People with addiction often feel powerless over their habits, as if they are trapped in a never-ending cycle of cravings and relapse. But addiction is treatable, and recovery is possible. The first step is understanding how addiction affects the brain.
Addiction changes the brain in three main ways: it alters brain chemistry, it alters brain structure, and it alters brain function. These changes can be long-lasting and can lead to harmful behaviours that characterise addiction. But with treatment, people with addiction can regain control of their lives and their brains.
Addiction treatment typically includes counselling, medication, and support groups. And while there is no one-size-fits-all solution, for many people, treatment is successful. With the right help, people with addiction can overcome the disease and live healthy, fulfilling lives.
Get Help with Addiction and Dependence
Addiction is a dependence that has spiralled out of control. People with addiction will continue to use it despite negative consequences like job loss or financial ruin. They may try to quit but be unable to stick to it because of intense cravings and withdrawal symptoms. Addiction is a serious disease that can ruin lives and tear families apart.
If you think you or someone you know may be struggling with addiction, get help from a professional treatment centre as soon as possible. Contact us today to get confidential advice and take your first steps on the road to recovery.
We’ve also written a much more in-depth look at dependence vs addiction here if you’d like to learn more about the differences between the two.
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