Substance Use Disorder vs Dependency: Differences, Treatment

Substance Use Disorder vs Dependency: Differences, Treatment

Always consult a medical professional about tolerance, dependence, or addiction. It’s marked not only by drug use and seeking but also by behavioral changes, decreased self-control, and an inability to abstain from the drug despite harmful consequences. It’s easy to use the terms “addiction” and “dependence” interchangeably. After all, they both relate to substance use and can significantly impact one’s life. However, diving deeper into substance use disorder (SUD), you’ll find that these terms have distinct, albeit related, meanings. Recovered is not a medical, healthcare or therapeutic services provider and no medical, psychiatric, psychological or physical treatment or advice is being provided by Recovered.

addiction vs dependence

…resulted in confusion among clinicians regarding the difference between “dependence” in a DSM (IV) sense, which is really “addiction,” and “dependence” as a normal physiological adaptation to repeated dosing of a medication. The result is that clinicians who see evidence of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms assume that this means addiction, and patients requiring additional pain medication are made to suffer. Similarly, pain patients in need of opioid medications may forgo proper treatment because of the fear of dependence, which is self-limiting by equating it with addiction (764–765) [6].

Different Severities of Dependency

In part to address this problem, a change proposed for DSM-V is to alter the chapter name to ‘Addiction and Related Disorders’, which will include disordered gambling. The specific substance use disorders may be referred to as ‘alcohol use’ or ‘opioid use’ disorders. The criteria for the disorders are likely to remain similar, with the exception of removal of the ‘committing illegal acts’ criterion and addition of a ‘craving’ criterion. The other major change relates to the elimination of the abuse/dependence dichotomy, given the lack of data supporting an intermediate stage. These changes are anticipated to improve clarification and diagnosis and treatment of substance use and related disorders.

  • I know that I take more medications than others, but there’s a reason for each one.
  • It’s easy to use the terms “addiction” and “dependence” interchangeably.
  • When physical dependency emerges, addiction often closely follows.
  • Because some scientists remain opposed to the use of the word ‘addiction’, we proposed a compromise.
  • Working with a health care professional will allow you to explore the options to treat your addiction.

While dependence and addiction can co-exist, it’s crucial to note the differences. Many substances that can be addictive may also lead to physical dependence. A clear example is a person who relies on insulin for diabetes management.

Is There a Difference Between Physical Dependence and Addiction?

While the patient who is physically dependent may experience some euphoria while using the drug, the reward center in the brain remains “offline,” and the patient is still capable of managing impulses and making decisions in their best interest. Physical dependence is addiction vs dependence when the body requires a specific dose of a particular drug, such as a prescription opioid1, in order to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Substance use disorder (SUD), or addiction, is classified as abnormal and is defined by the DSM-52 as a chronic, treatable illness.

addiction vs dependence

Because some scientists remain opposed to the use of the word ‘addiction’, we proposed a compromise. The proposed label in DSM-V is now called ‘substance use disorder’, with severity rated according to the number of symptoms. 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. Treatment must address withdrawal symptoms and potential relapses if it occurs.

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