Drug Addiction vs Drug Dependence – Is there a Difference?

At our drug rehabs San Diego and Escondido addiction treatment centers we see the misconceptions swirling around the terms drug addiction and drug dependence. The reason for this is because often, different organizations tend to use different definitions. They use these words interchangeably instead of giving you a clear explanation of what they each mean so that you can better understand them. Whether it’s addiction or dependence you will need inpatient, or outpatient rehabilitative medical care. These treatment options will provide you the education and tools need for long-tern recovery.

What is drug addiction?

Drug addiction is a biochemical change that is measured by a difference in one’s behavior after the continued use of a substance. Changes become visible when the continuous substance use turns into the main priority of the user. People who suffer from drug addiction tend to act irrationally regardless of the harm it could cause to themselves or those around them.

What is drug dependence?

Drug dependence is often confused with addiction though it refers to a physical dependence upon a certain substance. Doctors characterize it by the tolerance and withdrawal within the body. Though one could have a physical dependence without having a drug addiction the two usually go hand in hand. We have seen this at our drug rehabs San Diego addiction treatment centers.

Spotting the Difference Between Abuse & Dependence

Now that we’ve given you a better understanding of what each term means, recognizing the signs will allow you to identify the people who need help. It’s important to remember that while drug dependence can be present without having an addiction it frequently leads to problems with addiction. So, recognizing the signs early will give you an opportunity to get to the root of the problem before it persists.

Here are a few things to be mindful of:

Addiction can have symptoms like strong uncontrollable cravings; dependence is not. Dependence occurs through an increasing physical tolerance to a substance which then leads to the body needing to rely on it after a while. Addiction can fall under more psychological behaviors such as strong mood swings. 

Drug dependence and substance addition are treated differently. Physical dependence on a substance often requires a more slow, tapering treatment whereas addiction to a substance often demands a more extensive treatment that includes detox, therapy, and inpatient programs for addiction.

They occur in separate parts of the brain. If you were to look at a scan of the brain on someone who suffers from physical dependence, it would show up in the thalamus. If you were to see a scan of someone who suffers from a substance addiction such as an addiction to alcohol it would appear in the ventral tegmental region along with the nucleus and the prefrontal cortex.

Alcohol Detox San Diego Explains

best opiate and alcohol detox facilities in San Diego and Escondido California

Harmony Grove Recovery alcohol detox San Diego, California has treated many for drug addiction and dependence. In either case detoxifying the body is the first step. As you learned above drugs and alcohol addiction changes the brains chemistry and functioning. In order for the addiction treatment process to work the brain must be as clear as possible. It also reduces the chances of relapse during inpatient and intensive outpatient care.

All drug and alcohol detox’s are potentially dangerous. There are many medical problems that can quickly develop. Without proper medical attention some of these could be life threatening. It is always recommended that this process be perform with proper medical supervision. some times individuals think it is safe to do an at home detox. This is primarily because they have done it before with no complications. Just because you have done it once without any problems doesn’t mean it’s safe. I may just mean you were lucky enough not to have any problems.

Why Inpatient Drug Rehabs San Diego Are Needed?


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Our inpatient drug rehabs San Diego facilities clientele mostly have drug addiction problems. This is not to say that those suffering from drug dependence do not need residential care. There are many different factors that determine if an individual needs inpatient care. Some of the factors that determine inpatient treatment include;

  • drug of use
  • length of misuse of drugs an, or alcohol
  • history of drug misuse in the family
  • are there mental health disorders
  • intense or extreme urges to use drug of choice
  • is the drug or alcohol addiction affecting work or family?
  • extreme drug seeking behavior
  • needing more drugs or alcohol to get the effects

These are some of the factors, there are many more. A complete psychological and social evaluation must be conducted. This is an evaluation that should be done by a credentialed and experienced substance abuse professional. This is not something that should be determined with a 15 minute phone call. There should be a medical examination by a qualified physician including in-depth dialog with the patient.

Recover From Drug Addiction & Drug Dependence Today

It can be difficult to understand the difference between drug dependence and drug addiction. Educating yourself on addiction recovery and physical dependence can go a long way. The earlier intervention occurs the better the chances for recovery. It also could save your or a loved one’s life. Consider today Harmony Grove Recovery alcohol detox San Diego to get your life back under control. 

The path to recovery starts with detox and continues with inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. You can take that little and most important step today by call Harmony Grove Recovery drug rehabs San Diego and Escondido centers. We can gently guide you though the process of substance abuse treatment. Our experienced and credentialed team is waiting for your call. If you or someone you know may be struggling with drug addiction contact us today at (760) 697-0497. Learn more about our California alcohol detox and inpatient drug rehabs San Diego recovery programs and treatment options.

About Charles Davis

CEO of Behavioral health Network Resources drug rehab marketing, SEO and consulting agency. We guide and educate on search engine optimization strategies for leads generation. Our main focus is to educate on proven drug and alcohol addiction treatments. This includes evidence based techniques and the proper use of medication assisted treatment (MAT). We believe in only providing our drug rehab SEO marketing services to the best and most qualified centers.

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