Once mental dependence develops, triggers in your environment can cause brain changes that influence addictive behavior. Your trigger may be a person, place, or an emotional response to a specific event. However, to be characterized as an addiction, you must also exhibit uncontrollable behavior to obtain and use a substance. This combination of symptoms and characteristics is why many addicts cannot stop using, even after losing their job, house, or family. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • However, if you suspect someone may be struggling with drug abuse, recognizing these signs can be helpful in seeking appropriate assistance.
  • When someone uses the term “dependence,” they’re often referring to someone becoming physically dependent on a drug.
  • The terms “addiction” and “dependence” are often used interchangeably, but there are differences between the two.

Unhelpfully, however, nowhere in the DSM-5 is this explicitly and transparently mentioned. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association (APA), who are the developers of the DSM, nonchalantly utilize the terms “substance use disorder” and “addiction” interchangeably on their website. One of the main medical texts that are used by mental health professionals to diagnose addiction is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the DSM), which is currently in its fifth edition. Dependence and abuse are defined in a way that measures the time and severity of substance use. As it worsens and becomes more frequent, the odds of developing a substance use disorder increase dramatically.

Determining Whether You’re Dependent or Addicted

One particular area of misinformation concerns how the use of language is employed when describing topics related to addiction. Dependence on a drug can certainly lead to a substance abuse disorder (SUD). According to the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there’s not really a distinction between dependence and abuse anymore. Rather, the manual defines substance abuse disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. We know that the difference between addiction and dependence is often challenging to understand.

An Analysis of Drug Use-Related Curriculum Documents for … – Cureus

An Analysis of Drug Use-Related Curriculum Documents for ….

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It could include prescription drugs, over-the-counter products, street drugs, alcohol, even nicotine. Today, the APA classifies substance use disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. It doesn’t use the terms abuse and dependence to categorize the severity of an addiction. When people use the term “dependence,” they are usually referring to a physical dependence on a substance. Dependence is characterized by the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal. While it is possible to have a physical dependence without being addicted, addiction is usually right around the corner.

Drug Dependence vs. Drug Addiction: Is There a Difference?

Knowing as much as possible about addiction can also be a valuable tool in achieving recovery. SUD results in compulsive behaviors that manifest as cravings, an inability to control use, and continued use of the drug despite its harmful consequences. SUD can occur separately from physical dependence, although in the case of opioid use, a patient is also typically physically dependent on the drug. It is important to understand and discuss the risks of drug dependence with your prescribing doctor.

  • Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover.
  • Cravings can also be significant, encouraging people to continue using, even if they don’t want to.
  • For example, someone dependent on opioids will experience severe flu-like symptoms, like vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, cramps, etc.
  • The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the leading source for diagnosing and understanding addiction.

Opioid withdrawal can also be very uncomfortable and, while not typically life-threatening, it can lead to complications such as dehydration, vomiting, and diarrhea, which can be particularly risky in vulnerable individuals. Substance abuse also has psychological signs such as memory problems, difficulty concentrating, decreased cognitive function, lack of motivation, paranoia, hallucinations, and delusions. I know that I take more medications than others, but there’s a reason for each one. After I cleared it with my doctor, I recently stopped taking Diltiazem, which a cardiologist prescribed because I was having brief episodes of tachycardia. Being dependent on a drug and being addicted to a drug are two distinct, but related, concepts.

What is the difference between opioid addiction and dependence?

In 1964, the World Health Organization (WHO) wanted to replace the medical designation of the word addiction with dependence because the former term is ambiguous and carries too much negative connotation. But since both addiction vs dependence terms are still in use now, it’s important to learn the differences. Addiction is more than just a physiological response; it involves a psychological need for the drug and can lead to destructive behavior patterns.

Drug abuse can lead to a variety of physical, behavioral, and psychological signs and symptoms. Before we talk about these symptoms, we have to take note that the presence of these signs do not necessarily confirm drug abuse, as they could also be related to other health issues. Each situation is unique, so knowing whether you or a loved one are experiencing dependence, addiction, or both can make all the difference in how you’ll proceed. Underlying mental health issues can also accompany dependence and addiction.


In this case, if the patient had been labeled with an addiction, they could have experienced pushback in their lives, such as shame or job loss. Generally, those who are physically dependent on a drug will benefit from detoxification. This is a supervised clinical environment where one can safely work through the withdrawal period that accompanies a SUD, to rid their body of the toxins from drugs and alcohol. https://ecosoberhouse.com/ Withdrawal symptoms from certain drugs can be fatal, so it is important that detox is done professionally, in a safe and controlled medical facility. Addiction and dependence are words both used to describe an unhealthy and problematic pattern of drug or alcohol use. In the past, drug or alcohol dependence was diagnosed as the most severe form of addiction, but this classification was done away with in 2013.