Is There a Difference Between Physical Dependence and Addiction?

Is Physical Dependence Different Than Addiction?

Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction? Yes. There is a difference between physical dependence and addiction. Physical dependence occurs when the body adapts to a certain drug and requires a higher dose to achieve the same effect. Addiction is when an individual compulsively uses a drug and is unable to stop using, despite potential negative consequences. While many people suffering from addiction are physical dependent on a particular drug, someone who is physically dependent may not be addicted. It is important to understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction.

What is Physical Dependence?

Physical dependence is when the body physiologically adapts to a certain drug after long periods of use. If the individual abruptly stops taking the medication they will commonly experience negative side effects, these are withdrawal symptoms. Individuals who chronically use certain medications often develop tolerance, requiring higher doses to receive the same effects. Physical dependence can occur with chronic use of a variety of different medications. Physical dependence can occur even if the individual is taking the drug as prescribed. Many patients who suffer from chronic pain are prescribed pain medications for long periods of times. These patients often develop a physical dependence to the pain medication prescribed. When an individual experiences physical dependence it does not mean they are addicted to the drug. Physical dependence is a physiological state rather than a dysfunctional behavioral syndrome, like addiction. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a disease. Addiction occurs when an individual compulsively uses a drug, is unable to stop using the drug despite negative consequences and suffers from cravings. The cravings experienced make leading a normal life challenging and often cause destructive behavior. Addiction manifests as both a physical and psychological need for the drug. The individual often experiences physical dependence, tolerance and feel that they are psychologically unable to cope without the drug. The main difference between physical dependence and addiction is that addiction is a disease that affects the individual both physically and psychologically. Someone who suffers from addiction is often consumed mentally. They are often unable to function normally in day-to-day life without the effects produced by their chosen drug. Taking the drug, obtaining more of the drug and hiding their drug use often consume their thoughts. The emotional and physical toll addiction takes is severe and professional help is recommended.

What is Tolerance?

Tolerance is a psychological state where an individual requires more of a certain drug to achieve the same effects. Tolerance to particular drug occurs with repeated use over long durations of time. Tolerance often develops due to the metabolism rate of the drug increasing and the strength of the bond between cell receptors and the drug decreasing. When an individual has developed a tolerance to a particular drug, they require higher doses and quantities in order to receive the same desired effect. This can result in increased health risks for both individuals with a physical dependence and those who are in fact addicted to a particular drug.

Concerned About Yourself or a Loved One?

It is important to understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction. While physical dependence is often a part of addiction, those with a physical dependence to a drug are not necessarily addicted. It is important for someone who is physical dependent upon a drug to receive proper medical treatment when attempting to stop taking the drug. Withdrawal symptoms are uncomfortable and can be extremely dangerous. For someone who is addicted to a drug, it is important that they receive a medical detox followed by addiction treatment. Addiction is a serious disease and with the right help, emotional and physical recovery from addiction is possible. If you or someone you love needs help, please do not hesitate to give us a call and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have. Please call (877)799-1985 or simply click the link below.

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