This is part of a blog that I wrote a while ago for my www.mdsdruddetox.com
website. Dependence and addiction, despite what people think, are not the same condition. Since the terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand the differences between the two.
The crucial difference between them is that dependence is a physical state, whereas addiction is a psychological state.
Dependence happens to the body. When someone takes a certain amount of a substance for a certain amount of time, the body becomes adapted to having that substance present. When the substance is taken away, the body ends up feeling a withdrawal, since it is so used to the substance being there.
People commonly think of opiates, such as morphine, or semi-synthetic opioids derived from opiates, such as oxycodone, when they think of drug dependence or addiction. But as anyone who drinks three cups of coffee a day is bound to realize, the body can become dependent on far less damaging substances, as well. Many people using drugs to manage their pain are dependent on those drugs without being addicted to them. They take the drugs to function normally and live productive lives. These users may be dependent, but they are not addicted.
Addiction is a different beast. Whereas dependence is strictly physical, addiction reaches into psychological and social depths as well. Addiction is a condition that drives someone to satisfy their need for a substance (or behavior) at whatever the cost. Addiction is a compulsion. Addiction demands more and more, and doesn't care about the consequences. Someone who is addicted will continue using despite actual physical, mental, and social anguish to themselves or the loved ones around them. Someone who is addicted experiences constant cravings for the drug that can only be quelled by higher and higher dosages. Addiction leads to secrecy and lies; interference with everyday life; and causes problems with loved ones. When it comes to addiction vs. dependence, addiction is truly a disease, whereas dependence is a state. Addicts are dependent on the drugs they take, but the inability to control themselves is what turns dependence into addiction.
When an individual becomes addicted to a drug, whatever the reason they began taking that drug in the first place, a point is reached where nothing matters to the addict but obtaining the drug and getting high. Addiction leads to isolation, from other people as well as emotionally and psychologically within the addict. Addiction quickly takes over an individual’s life. When considering addiction vs. dependence, simply being dependent on a drug will not cause an individual to lose their grip the way addiction does. Addiction is a forlorn and lonely state, but unfortunately one that millions of people have found themselves in.
Through rapid drug detox, however, addicted individuals can take control over their bodies again. When determining an addiction vs. dependence, the key area of difference is the state of the user’s life. Someone who is in dependent on a drug but not addicted otherwise leads a normal and fulfilling life. Those who are addicted to drugs, however, experience a continuous downward spiral and an infinite loop of seeking highs and the crushing lows that come when highs can’t be found. Yet addiction does not have to be the end of the world. Especially when rapid drug detox is used in conjunction with Naltrexone therapy, which stops the effects of opiates on the body, and the right rehabilitation psychologist, to tackle the psychological underpinnings, addiction can be overcome.