It can be difficult to understand the difference between addiction and dependence. Many people use these words interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two.
In this blog post, we will look at both addiction and dependence while explaining how they both have their own symptoms and causes.
We will also look at how these deadly medical diseases can affect the lives of people who are struggling to deal with them and the treatments that are available to help aid in the fight.
What Is Addiction?
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.
It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain — they change its structure and how it works. Most drugs change the brain by interfering with the way neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, send signals between nerve cells. These changes in the brain can be long-lasting and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs.
Many drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamine, can cause the brain to release too much of a neurotransmitter called dopamine. This overstimulation of the reward system produces the “high” that people feel when they use these drugs and is one of the main reasons people keep coming back to abuse them again and again.
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 19.7 million Americans aged 12 or older battled a substance use disorder like addiction in 2017.
Drugs are not the only thing people can get addicted to. Some people get addicted to gambling, sex, work, or even shopping. Addiction can come in many forms, and it really comes down to overindulgence in anything that produces pleasure.
Addiction is a serious medical disease that requires treatment by trained professionals. But with treatment, many people suffering from addiction are able to recover and lead productive lives.
What Are the Symptoms of Addiction?
Addiction symptoms can come in a number of different forms. The most common symptoms are:
- Compulsively seeking out the drug or activity
- Difficulty controlling the use of the drug or participation in the activity
- Continued use or participation despite negative consequences
- Giving up important activities in order to use drugs or participate in the activity
- Using more of the substance or participating in the activity more often than intended
- Persistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use
- Tolerance, which is the need for increased amounts of the substance or participation in the activity to get the desired effect, or “high”
What Is Dependence?
Dependence is when a person feels withdrawal symptoms when they stop using a substance or doing an action they are dependent on. People who are dependent will often continue to use the substance in question or engage in the addictive activity even if they are causing problems in their life, like losing their job or breaking up with their partner.
Dependence usually develops over time as people keep indulging in the activity or substance. The dependence can be physical and/or psychological.
The dependence can have huge negative effects if the person just goes “cold turkey” (that is, tries to give up their behavior completely and instantaneously), and this is especially true for drugs. Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely unpleasant. This is why it’s always best to detox under the care of a professional.
What Are the Symptoms of Dependence?
Dependence, like addiction, can cause a huge amount of problems in a person’s life. The main difference is that dependence usually leads to physical withdrawal symptoms when the person tries to stop.
Some of the common symptoms of dependence are:
- Withdrawal symptoms when stopping use
- Spending a lot of time using or recovering from use
- Cravings for the substance or activity
- Unsuccessful attempts to control or reduce the use
- Tolerance, which means needing more of the substance or activity to get the desired effect, or “high”
Many withdrawal symptoms are the opposite of the “high” that the person experiences when using. For example, someone dependent on opioids will often feel nauseous and vomit when they try to stop taking them.
Withdrawal symptoms can be extremely life-threatening if not appropriately managed by a professional.
What’s the Difference Between Addiction and Dependence?
The main difference between addiction and dependence is that addiction is a disease of the mind, while dependence is a physical dependence on a substance or activity.
People who are addicted will often continue to seek out and use the substance or participate in the activity even if it’s causing problems in their lives. People who are dependent will usually only keep using to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction has both mental and physical qualities, while dependence is primarily physical. However, both dependence and addiction can have serious consequences in a person’s life if not managed properly.
Another common misconception is that addiction is often seen as a choice, while dependence is usually not, but this isn’t true. Addiction and dependence can both develop over time and be extremely difficult to overcome.
Addiction can be treated by professionals, while dependence often requires professional help to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Ketamine Infusion Becoming a Top Choice To Treat Both Addiction and Dependency
Ketamine is a medication that has been used for pain relief and anesthesia for many years. In recent years, it has been found to be extremely effective in treating both addiction and dependence.
Ketamine works by blocking NMDA receptors in nerves. It does this by binding to the receptor and preventing it from receiving glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter, so ketamine has a calming effect by blocking it.
By blocking this receptor, ketamine can help people who are struggling with addiction or dependence reduce their use or quit altogether.
In addition, ketamine has also been shown to treat depression, anxiety, and PTSD, which are often underlying causes of addiction.
Ketamine infusion therapy is a new and innovative treatment that is helping people to overcome addiction and dependence without having to go through painful withdrawal symptoms.
Chrysalis Ketamine works with you to create a custom ketamine infusion therapy treatment plan. We think of everyone’s body as a snowflake — each one is special and different. That’s why we offer personalized plans based on your unique situation.
So if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction or dependence, please book a consultation with Chrysalis Ketamine today.
We would be happy to answer any of your questions and help you or your loved one on the journey to recovery.