Do Withdrawal Symptoms Mean You Are Addicted?
What Are Withdrawal Symptoms?
Withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant physical and mental symptoms that occur when stopping or reducing the intake of a drug. The characteristics of the withdrawal symptoms vary depending on what drug is being used. Dosage and length of usage are additional factors that may determine the characteristics and severity of the symptoms.
A commonly asked question is, do withdrawal symptoms mean you are addicted? Not necessarily. Needing a drug to avoid experiencing withdrawal symptoms doesn’t mean you are addicted. When trying to determine if you are someone you know is addicted to a particular drug it is important to understand the difference between dependence and addiction.
Emotional and Physical Withdrawal Symptoms
There are both emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms. Different drugs produce different withdrawal symptoms. It is important to understand that that severity and characteristics of withdrawal symptoms vary with different drugs and length of use. Some examples of possible emotional withdrawal symptoms are: anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, irritability, depression, headaches and lack of concentration. Some examples of possible physical withdrawal symptoms are: sweating increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tension and difficulty breathing. It is important that one seek professional help if they are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Some drugs require a medical detox. Death can occur if someone abruptly stops drinking alcohol or taking benzodiazepines.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is often defined as the loss of control over the obsessive urges to take a particular substance despite the negative consequences associated with that behavior. Someone can experience withdrawal symptoms from a particular drug without experience drug cravings and drug seeking behavior. It is important to understand the difference between dependence and addiction.
What is the Difference Between Physical Dependence and Addiction?
Physical dependence is when the body physiologically adapts to a certain drug after long periods of use. At this point, if the person abruptly stopped taking that particular drug they would experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. The chronic use of medication may lead to increased tolerance. Increased tolerance means that individual will need to take higher doses of that drug in order to receive the same initial effects. Physical dependence can occur in individuals who are taking a medication as prescribed. Physical dependence is a physiological state rather than dysfunctional behavioral syndrome.
Addiction is a disease. Addiction is when an individual compulsively uses a drug and is unable to stop taking that drug despite negative consequences. People who are addicted to drugs or alcohol are often unable to function normally without the effects produced by drugs or alcohol. Addiction presents as both a physical and psychological need for the drug. While addiction often includes physical dependence, someone who is physical dependent upon a drug isn’t always addicted.
Related article: Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?
Some Possible Signs of Addiction
– Loss of control: when someone continues to drink or use drugs despite their intentions.
– Risky behaviors: those who are suffering from addiction or more likely to put themselves in dangerous situations in order to obtain their desired drug.
– Dishonest and secrecy: addicts will often go to great lengths to hide or disguise their drinking or using.
– Loss of interest: addicts will often spend less time with family and on activities they previously enjoyed. Poor academic and work performance often occurs.
– Change in appearance: addiction is extremely destructive; an addicts outward appearance may reflect unhealthy choices.
– Change in attitude or behavior: addicts often exhibit severe changes in overall attitude and behavior. Their mood often fluctuates.
– Tolerance and withdrawal: over time addicts often require higher doses of a drug or increased number of alcoholic beverages in order to receive the effect they desire. Addicts will often experience withdrawal symptoms when the effects of drugs or alcohol begin to wear off.
– Continued use despite negative consequences: addicts will often continue to use drugs and alcohol despite negative consequences such as legal issues, loss of employment, loss of family support and decrease in overall health.
Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?
Someone may experience withdrawal symptoms without being addicted. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction. If you or someone you care for is suffering from drug or alcohol addiction it is imperative that you seek professional help. Although addiction is a disease that can’t be cured, emotional and physical recovery is possible. If you wish to learn more about our outpatient programs, drug counseling in general or about the disease of addiction, please do not hesitate to call us at (877)799-1985 or simply click on the banner below to visit our contact page. We are waiting to hear from you!