Addiction Wikipedia

For example, behavioral therapy teaches you coping mechanisms and the skills you need to recognize and avoid triggers that lead to drug abuse. You might also receive treatment for mental health conditions that are linked to addiction, such as depression or bipolar disorder. Addiction is a state of psychological or physical dependence (or both) on the use of alcohol or other drugs. The term is often used as an equivalent term for substance dependence and sometimes applied to behavioral disorders, such as sexual, internet, and gambling addictions. It is somewhat common for people to use terms like drug addiction and drug abuse interchangeably.

  • Physical dependence on a substance (drug or alcohol) may be a component of addiction, but it does not itself equal addiction.
  • Mark eventually develops a physical dependence on alcohol, as it’s an addictive substance.
  • When someone is addicted to a substance, it’s not uncommon for their loved ones to refer to them as having an “addiction” to certain behaviors or describe them as someone that is “dependent” on alcohol or drugs.
  • Detoxification is not always needed—this depends on the extent of the withdrawal symptoms upon stopping drug abuse.
  • She graduated from The University of Maryland with a master’s degree in social work.
  • Amidst the worsening polysubstance overdose crisis driven by illicitly-manufactured fentanyl, accurately identifying opioid use disorder is crucial to target effective treatment and harm reduction efforts.

If you know someone who displays some of the signs of dependence or addiction outlined above, we want to help. Perhaps you yourself have become dependent on a particular substance or need help with an addiction that’s gotten out of hand. Someone can depend on a substance without being addicted to it, and vice versa. It is much more useful to focus on individuals and their relationship to substances — and which treatment options will best suit their unique situation. Dependence is characterized by symptoms of tolerance or withdrawal and often occurs when a drug is used regularly.

The Signs of Substance Abuse

First, it is crucial to understand the differences between drug tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Tolerance occurs when a person’s physical response to a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, lessens over time. Therefore, achieving the same effects requires higher or more frequent doses. Over time, people build a tolerance while searching for the high they once got. Throughout that process, he learned the importance of helping others and living by spiritual principles.

  • Everyone who comes through our doors is in a moment of profound struggle in their lives.
  • If a person uses many drugs and develops a physical dependence on these drugs, that person is usually described as dependent.
  • Outpatient treatment can be a good idea for those who have work or family responsibilities that they don’t want to neglect while they are healing.
  • Generally, those who are physically dependent on a drug will benefit from detoxification.

Before they know it, they’re using alcohol to deal with every social situation. But without the alcohol, they feel low and lacking in confidence, and may even avoid social situations. This type of addiction can quickly lead to dependency if left untreated. Effective recovery helps alcohol users regain their confidence and deal with these situations while sober. Weaning, or gradually quitting the substance, is an effective way to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Understanding the Terms

Erin has a master’s degree in management from University of Maryland, University College, and a bachelor’s degree in special education from Townson University. Prior to entering the substance abuse and mental health field, Erin was a Special Education Teacher for 10 years. Detoxification treatment may need to be administered to those with substance dependence due to the dangerous nature of some withdrawal symptoms. Research suggests that no treatment method is superior, but that social support is very important and that organizations such as AA and NA have better than average success rates in reducing relapse. People used to believe that addiction only happened in certain areas, like in inner cities, or among specific groups of people, like those who were down and  out.

Is alcohol addiction the same as alcohol dependence?

Alcohol dependence, which is also known as alcoholism or alcohol addiction, describes the most serious form of high-risk drinking, with a strong – often uncontrollable – desire to drink. It means drinking at a level that causes harm to your health.

However, a person who is dependent on a drug may not addicted to it. Keep in mind, a physical dependence is usually a precursor to addiction, so it is important to recognize the signs of both. Today, the APA classifies substance use disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. addiction vs dependence It doesn’t use the terms abuse and dependence to categorize the severity of an addiction. In 2013, the American Psychological Association (APA) released the fifth edition of the DSM. In this edition, the definitions revolving around addiction were changed once again.


Erin decided to switch careers and went back to school to obtain her Addiction Counseling certification. In addition, to being a certified Addictions Counselor, Erin is a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist (CPRS), and a Registered Peer Supervisor (RPS). For example, we have long been told that people need to hit “rock bottom” before they’ll get help, but this isn’t true. Anyone with an addiction can get help at any point if they feel it’s the right time.

what is addiction vs dependence

Rather, the manual defines substance abuse disorders as mild, moderate, or severe. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or substance abuse, we can help. If a person is exhibiting two or more of the above symptoms, professional substance use treatment is recommended. This indicates the presence of at least a mild substance use disorder. Abuse and dependence are defined on a scale that measures the time and degree of substance use.

I worked in construction prior to this field and needed a complete change in career as I was too suffering from substance addiction. I watch clients walk through the door, broken, and still remember when it was I who felt hopeless. After learning the necessary coping skills and engaging in a 12-step fellowship, my life began to change, and only for the better. I now enjoy working with others and helping them get through the hard times of early recovery. I still engage in a daily program of recovery myself and also enjoy fitness and health, nature, sports, horror movies, video games, cooking and spending time with family and friends. I have been on both sides of the fence, active addiction and recovery, and continue to choose recovery every day.

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