When does a drug dependence become a drug addiction?

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When does a drug dependence become a drug addiction?

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Reach out to us today by filling out the contact form below with your name, contact information, and a brief message about your recovery journey. If your story is chosen, a member of our team will reach out to you. While much of the confusion about this topic can be traced to DSM committees, I would caution against an oversimplified blame game. The topic itself is inherently complicated and confusing, and it’s situated in the context of an evolving medical and cultural milieu.

Mental dependence is when use of a substance is a conditioned response to an event or feeling. These are known as “triggers.” Something as simple as the act of driving can trigger a desire to use. These triggers set off biochemical changes in a person’s brain that strongly influence addictive behavior. Addiction is marked by a change in behavior caused by the biochemical changes in the brain after continued substance abuse. Substance use becomes the main priority of the addict, regardless of the harm they may cause to themselves or others. An addiction causes people to act irrationally when they don’t have the substance they are addicted to in their system.

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The problem, we argue, is caused by confusingly-worded International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9 and ICD-10 codes, which reflect a general misunderstanding of the difference between addiction and physiologic dependence. At first, starting this behavior is an extra activity, but as the user Alcohol tolerance Wikipedia becomes more dependent on the high, it can turn into the main activity. This is where dependency can turn into full-blown addiction—when substance abuse becomes the all-encompassing main priority. A person with an addictive temperament is generally using a drug or alcohol consistently to excess.

  • Because of this confusion, some organizations prefer substance use disorder (SUD).
  • An increased tolerance to any substance, whether coffee, medication, or recreational drugs, is a signal from your body.
  • For example, a person may become physically dependent on antidepressant medications prescribed to treat depression, even experiencing withdrawal symptoms when tapering down or stopping using.
  • This is why the offspring of addicts are prone to becoming addicts.
  • Previously, abuse was a mild form of addiction, and dependence was a moderate or severe form of addiction.
  • However, the desire to avoid withdrawal is what can eventually lead to addiction.

Different prevention methods can be used depending on whether the substance is prescribed or can be found over-the-counter or elsewhere. Addiction encompasses both a mental and physical reliance on a given substance. American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically https://accountingcoaching.online/patients-of-sober-living-centers-are-often-last-to/ current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand. However, the desire to avoid withdrawal is what can eventually lead to addiction. Maia Szalavitz was responsible for the conception of the manuscript, drafted the manuscript, and approved the final published version.

Does Tolerance Lead to Dependence and Addiction?

In summary, being dependent on a drug means that the body has become accustomed to the presence of the drug, while addiction is a psychological disorder characterized by an obsessive need to use a substance, despite negative consequences. While dependence and addiction often occur together, they are not the same thing. Addiction, on the other hand, is a psychological and behavioral disorder characterized by an obsessive need to use a substance, despite negative consequences.

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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. https://trading-market.org/essential-tremor-alcohol-treatment/ I suppose that some people would have an addiction problem if they were to take some of the meds I take. I’ve never had a problem with addiction, to drugs or alcohol or nicotine or a behavioral addiction.


That alone isn’t always an addiction, but it can accompany addiction. Diagnosis of substance use disorder usually occurs after discussing your medical history and symptoms with your primary care provider, a psychiatrist, or a qualified mental health professional. You will likely be asked a series of questions about your usage and any effects it has had on your relationships and responsibilities. Addictive disorders are highly treatable, and treatment at an inpatient or outpatient rehab can greatly increase the likelihood of long-term sobriety. People with physical dependence may benefit from inpatient detox or rehab to ensure a safe and successful withdrawal, and anyone with an addiction should seek out addiction treatment.

addiction vs dependence

Addiction is a disease characterized by behavioral issues, and dependence refers to a physical reliance on a substance. The two conditions often occur at the same time, but a person can be dependent on a substance without being addicted to it. However, it’s essential to understand that while tolerance can lead to dependence and addiction, it doesn’t always. It’s one of many factors involved in the complex progression towards addiction. Always consult a medical professional about tolerance, dependence, or addiction. If a person is exhibiting two or more of the above symptoms, professional substance use treatment is recommended.


It’s a scenario that pits addiction versus abuse or addiction versus dependence. But increasingly in recent years, that view has flip-flopped a bit. Substance use disorder and physical dependency are related, but not the same. “Substance use disorder” is the medical term for addiction and physical dependency describes the phenomenon of your body becoming physiologically dependent on a substance. The line between the two can sometimes be blurred, though, especially when discussing potentially habit-forming prescriptions like opioids.

addiction vs dependence

As a result, many physicians are ill-equipped to differentiate addiction from dependence due to a lack of expertise. Other professionals who diagnose addiction (e.g. social workers, physician assistants, nurse-practitioners, addiction counselors) also need better education about these distinctions. Studies have shown that addiction can form in individuals through a combination of genetic makeup and poor social skills. This is why the offspring of addicts are prone to becoming addicts.

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