The Difference Between Dependence And Addiction

Substance abuse and behavioural disorders manifest differently for each individual. While some manage to function normally despite a severe addiction, others struggle with conditions that disrupt their lives significantly.

Understanding the difference between dependency and addiction is key to making lasting progress toward recovery. 

Understanding Dependency

Dependency on a specific drug means relying on it to feel well. It’s crucial to note that dependency doesn’t always equal addiction, at least not immediately.

 1. Physical Dependency 

There are two types of substance dependency: physical and mental. Physical dependency occurs when the body relies on a substance to function normally.

For instance, individuals recovering from major injuries may need prescription painkillers to manage pain. Over time, their bodies become dependent on these medications. While initially necessary for daily activities, prolonged use may lead to increased tolerance and potential addiction if not managed carefully. 

 2. Psychological Dependency 

While physical dependence relies on substances to alleviate physiological symptoms or prevent withdrawal, psychological dependence involves how our brains interact with substances and react when they’re absent from our lives.

Take marijuana, for instance. It’s unlikely to cause physical dependence but can lead to strong psychological dependence. Chronic users may find it challenging to quit, despite experiencing minimal physical withdrawal symptoms.

Regularly using marijuana conditions the brain to view it as a primary source of relaxation, stress relief, or anxiety reduction. This creates triggers—situations that prompt a person to seek their substance of choice. Triggers vary from everyday challenges like a job loss to unexpected news, each evoking intense cravings, anxiety, or discomfort in the absence of the substance. 

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is commonly recognised as a state where individuals are both psychologically and physically attached to a substance or behaviour, persistently engaging in them despite adverse effects on their health, personal, and professional lives. It’s marked by increasingly harmful behaviour as the addiction progresses.

If you suspect you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, watch out for these signs:

  • Repeated unsuccessful attempts to quit
  • Withdrawal from social circles
  • Persistent, intrusive thoughts about the substance or behaviour
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Memory lapses
  • Concealing substance use from loved ones
  • Increased tolerance 

How The Cedars Can Help

At The Cedars, we understand the complex nature of dependency and addiction. Our experienced team specialises in providing personalised treatment plans tailored to each individual’s unique needs. Whether you’re grappling with physical dependence, mental triggers, or both, our compassionate approach addresses the underlying factors contributing to your addiction.

Our comprehensive programs offer a range of services, including detoxification, counselling, group therapy, and aftercare support, ensuring an effective recovery journey.

If you or a loved one are battling with dependency or addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Contact us today for more information!