The Difference between Addiction and Physical Drug Dependence

The Difference between Addiction and Physical Drug DependenceDrug addiction and drug dependence are concepts that are frequently confused. The terms addiction and dependence are often used interchangeably by patients and doctors in Ohio, but they are two distinct medical conditions experienced by drug users.

Physical Dependence on a Drug

An Ohio resident who is physically dependent has become physiologically reliant on a substance. This is most common with opioid use. The body adjusted to a certain amount of painkiller in its system and when doses are lessened or ended, withdrawal symptoms are likely to occur. While withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant, physical dependence is not uncommon and doctors may know that a strong possibility of dependence is present when they prescribe a certain drug. It is more important that a patient be effectively treated for pain or other medical issues than it is that they avoid dependence. A person who is dependent on a drug is not necessarily also addicted. Withdrawal symptoms of dependence can be treated by tapering off drug doses or with other medications, and dependence is in general not as serious as drug addiction.

Addiction to a Drug

Dependence is physical, but addiction is psychological. The term “addiction” necessarily refers to the nonmedical use of a drug. Using a drug as recommended by a doctor should not result in addiction. Addiction affects behavior. An addict uses a drug for recreational purposes despite negative effects to his physical, emotional, or social well-being. Dependence refers only to drug use, but addiction can refer to virtually any habitual behavior, including drug or alcohol use, sex, pornography, or gambling. An addiction has formed when a user is more concerned with satisfying his habitual cravings than with fulfilling responsibilities. The most common withdrawal symptom for recovering addicts is a strong craving to engage in addictive behavior.

Drug addiction is treated differently than drug dependence. Dependent users are given medication to gradually lessen their dependence and to fight individual withdrawal symptoms. Drug addicts are treated in rehab facilities with strict schedules to offset drug cravings and to keep them occupied and drug-free. The support of staff and other recovering addicts is often vital to breaking a psychological addiction.

If an addiction to a drug is present, dependence is most likely also present. This means that by the time the brain is psychologically reliant on a substance, the body is probably also physiologically reliant on it. For this reason, physical withdrawal symptoms are common for users fighting addiction in addition to normal cravings. If you suspect you or a loved one living in Ohio are suffering from addiction, please call our toll-free helpline for treatment options.

Ohio Residents Seeking Drug Addiction Help

If you are addicted to drugs, help is available. Call our 24 hour helpline toll-free for support today. Recovery is possible. Please call today.