Do I Have An Addiction? Dependence vs Addiction

Drug addiction, substance abuse, and physical dependence are significant issues in the healthcare community. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a serious mental health issue that impacts countless individuals and families every year. Even though addiction and dependence are used interchangeably, they are not the same things. What do you need to know about an addictive substance, drug dependence, and how they might impact your experience at a mental health addiction treatment center?

Take a look below, and remember to reach out to an expert who can help you. 

An Overview Of Drug Dependence

Typically, healthcare providers define drug dependence based on the impact that it has on you. In general, someone is considered to be dependent on a certain substance or drug if they develop withdrawal symptoms and cravings when they stop using that substance. For example, someone who has become dependent on opioid prescription drugs or benzodiazepines might develop withdrawal symptoms if they go without using that substance for a while.

Keep in mind that the exact nature of the symptoms of withdrawal and side effects someone develops during the detox process can vary depending on the substance someone is using and how long they have been using it. As an example, if someone is in withdrawal from caffeine, they might develop some mild symptoms, such as a headache. On the other hand, if someone is in withdrawal from alcohol use, they could develop seizures, which might be life-threatening. 

This is one of the biggest reasons why people need to gradually taper off something they have been using for a while. If someone gradually stops using something instead of stopping it abruptly, they will be less likely to develop severe withdrawal symptoms.

Dependence Often Includes Triggers

If you are dependent on something, you might notice certain triggers that cause you to use that substance again. Some of the most common examples of triggers that could indicate physical reliance include:

  • You might feel a knot developing in your stomach when you have gone for a while without using a specific substance.
  • You might notice a specific smell that triggers you to reach for drugs, alcohol, or some other addictive substance. 
  • You might also notice yourself getting nervous, anxious, or sweaty if you have gone for a while without using a specific substance. 

If you ignore these triggers, you might notice yourself developing withdrawal symptoms. This is a significant concern, and it is a sign that you may have become physically dependent on that substance. This is also a clue that you should reach out to an expert who can help you.

An Overview Of Addiction

In contrast to substance dependence, addiction refers to the compulsive use of a specific substance even though that substance leads to negative consequences. For example, someone might continue to drink alcohol even though it has a negative impact on his or her health and relationships.

Some of the hallmark signs of addictive behavior include:

  • Someone might not be able to stop using that substance even though they acknowledge that the substance has a negative impact on their health.
  • Because they spend so much time and energy focusing on using that addictive substance, they are unable to stay up to date with their family responsibilities, work obligations, and social life.
  • Addiction can still lead to tolerance and withdrawal, depending on the exact nature of the substance someone is using. 

It is possible for someone to develop a physical dependence on something, meaning that dependence and addiction are not necessarily mutually exclusive. It is possible for someone to be addicted and dependent on something at the same time, although the two are not always found together. 

Addiction Can Lead To Biochemical Changes In The Brain

Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to addiction, and addiction is also marked by specific biochemical changes in the brain. After you have used a specific substance for a long time, it can alter the way ions flow throughout your brain, and it can have an impact on neurotransmitters.

Because of the changes that take place in your brain, you may start to act irrationally. This is why you might continue to seek out that addictive substance even though it is having a negative impact on your life. It can take a significant amount of time for your brain to return to normal, and it can be difficult for you to break free from this addictive substance on your own. That is why you need to rely on clinicians at a behavioral health treatment center who can help you.

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Whether you’re seeking treatment for yourself, a loved one or as a referring physician, we are always available to answer your questions and help connect you with the resources you need.

How Do I Know If I Need Help?

So, how do you know if you need help? There are a few signs you might notice that could indicate you need to reach out to a treatment professional. They include:

  • If you notice that you develop cravings when you have gone for a while without using a specific substance, you may need to reach out to a treatment expert.
  • If you become emotionally irritable when it has been a while since you used drugs or alcohol, it may be time to ask for help.
  • If your family members and friends are telling you that you have a problem, you should reach out to a treatment professional.
  • If you are in financial difficulty because of all the money you spend on drugs, alcohol, and other addictive substances, you need to talk to an expert.
  • If you find that you are hiding your behavior from other people because you feel guilty about it, it could be a sign that you have a serious problem. 

If you notice any of these issues above, you should reach out to an expert who can assist you. It can be difficult to admit that you have a problem, but dependence and addiction can be addressed comprehensively by a treatment expert who has experience in this area.

What Are My Treatment Options?

There are multiple treatment options available, including inpatient and outpatient treatment professionals. If you are in the early stages of the recovery process, you may want to start with an inpatient treatment center. This is particularly helpful because you can have a professional who watches over you as you go through the detox process. The withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to tackle on your own, but a medical professional can provide you with assistance that can make the symptoms easier to bear. Then, once you have completed the detox process, you will learn skills that can help you stay sober.

There are also situations where an outpatient treatment setting can be beneficial. For example, outpatient treatment often takes place in a one-on-one setting, which could make it easier for you to open up to an expert. A treatment professional can customize your plan to meet your needs, provide you with additional social support that can help you get back on your feet, and maximize your chances of staying sober.

You might even find that group therapy can be helpful. Group therapy can be beneficial because you can learn from the experiences of others and discover how other people deal with cravings and prevent relapses from taking place. 

Count On The Experts At Riverside Recovery To Help You Address Addiction And Dependence

Substance use disorder, substance addiction, and physical dependence are issues that can impact anyone. 

It is critical to reach out to experts who can help you. At Riverside Recovery of Tampa, we have the tools, training, and experience to help you on the road to recovery.

We understand that it can be difficult to reach out and ask for help, but we are able to assist you. We have worked with people of all backgrounds, and we will give you the skills you need to manage substance abuse and addiction while staying sober. 

Contact us today to speak to a member of our admissions team.