Those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction know that addiction is a disease characterized by a cognitive compulsion that’s so powerful that it feels almost impossible to resist.  However, many casual drinkers and even some who use drugs recreationally don’t experience nor do they understand addiction.  Many individuals feel that addiction is a choice.  Moreover, many confuse the important terms “addiction” and “dependence”.  So what’s the difference and why does it matter?

Addiction Vs. Dependence

Have you ever heard someone talk about being “physically addicted” to something?   Moreover, many individuals who don’t truly understand addiction and are against treating opioid addiction medically will use the expression “replacing one addiction with another” referring to an individual who may choose to undergo MMT (methadone maintenance therapy) or Suboxone treatment.   But are these expressions accurate?

Many individuals misunderstand and misuse the word addiction.  In fact, a “physical addiction” doesn’t actually exist.  The word they are really mean to use is “dependence”.   Addiction is a disease of the brain that depletes natural dopamine levels and creates a seemingly irresistible urge to use.  Dependence however, is the body’s physical reliance on a particular substance that’s created by ongoing substance use and increased tolerance.   Dependence always results in withdrawal for those who decide to stop using that particular substance cold turkey.

Examples of Addiction Vs. Dependence

Not every substance creates a dependence and not everyone becomes addicted to every drug.  For example, Zoloft is one of many drugs/medications prescribed by doctors for individuals who suffer from depression.  Those who take Zoloft are likely to become dependent or physically reliant on it.   In other words, stopping use of the medication after you’ve been on it for awhile may produce withdrawal symptoms similar to the common cold.  However, since Zoloft doesn’t create any feelings of euphoria, it won’t trigger the onset of addiction and there will be no compulsion to use or abuse it.

Drugs like alcohol, opioids and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, etc.) often touches the pleasure center of the brain in such a way that it’s pleasurable.  As a result, those with a genetic susceptibility may acquire the disease of addiction and feel compelled to continue using more and more of one or more of these particular substances or drugs.

What’s more, many substances that create feelings of euphoria and put men and women at risk of becoming addicted also contain properties of dependence, making it even more difficult to quit.  Not only do addicted individuals possess powerful urges to use, but quitting means going through dreadful withdrawal.  Many addicts continue using long after they want to stop because of an avid fear of becoming horribly sick.

Life Changes Addiction Treatment Center Can Help

Are you having a difficult time breaking the cycle of addiction and dependence?  Life Changes Addiction Treatment Center  is a great place to jump-start a healthy, substance-free life.    Give us a call at (561) 301-1119 and let us help you get your life back on track.  You are invited to our beautiful drug rehab facility in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Written and Published by,

William Charles, Publisher of Kill The Heroin Epidemic Nationwide, Heroin News and the National Alliance of Addiction Treatment Centers (NAATC)

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