Addiction vs. Dependence: The Differences and Your Drug Treatment Options

The terms “addiction” and “dependence” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings for people who struggle with drug use.

If you have recently decided to overcome a drug habit, you may have encountered the words “addiction” and “dependence” while looking for a drug treatment center in Arkansas. Many people who struggle with drug abuse think these words describe the same thing, but their unique definitions play a large part in the type of treatment you should receive. The following information explains the difference between addiction and dependence and how they can affect your journey to recovery.

What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a health condition in which you have strong cravings for a certain substance. These cravings occur due to physical changes in your brain after repeated exposure to a drug. These cravings can lead to uncontrolled drug use, which takes a toll on your health, relationships, career, finances, and other aspects of your life. Being addicted to drugs can cause you to engage in self-destructive behavior or make decisions that hurt other people, such as taking dangerous risks or acting in an aggressive manner toward others.

What Is Dependence?

While addiction is classified a disease, dependence is a state of being physically dependent on a certain substance. Addiction is rooted in your brain, but dependence occurs when your body as a whole becomes used to the effects of a drug and goes into withdrawal if you stop using that substance. The symptoms of withdrawal vary by drug, but they can include severe mental and physical reactions. The more your body adapts to the effects of a drug, the more physically dependent it becomes. This can, in turn, cause you to end up using larger amounts of that substance to achieve the same desired effects.

What Is the Difference?  

While dependence and addiction can be experienced simultaneously, it is possible to have one without the other. For example, you can be addicted to a drug without having a physical dependence on it. The good news is that a drug treatment center in Arkansas will be well equipped to handle both of these aspects of substance abuse.

The trained staff at drug treatment centers can help you overcome addiction through therapy designed to help you resist cravings and reverse the impact of drugs on your brain. For example, behavioral therapy teaches you coping mechanisms and the skills you need to recognize and avoid triggers that lead to drug abuse. You might also receive treatment for mental health conditions that are linked to addiction, such as depression or bipolar disorder.

Treatment for physical dependence involves helping your body adjust to receiving less of a drug until it is no longer dependent. You may go through a detoxification program at a drug treatment center, which helps you go through withdrawal in a safe environment. As you go through detoxification, you will receive medical care to lessen the effects of unpleasant symptoms. For certain kinds of drugs, such as opioids, you may be prescribed medication that mimics the drug’s effects. This allows your body to gradually become used to functioning without the substance on which it was physically dependent.

If you are looking for a drug treatment center in Arkansas, contact ARcare to set up an appointment. Our compassionate, professional staff is committed to providing our state’s residents with the best possible medical care.

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