dependence vs addictionWhen people are talking about dependence and addiction, it can be difficult to understand exactly what they are and why they are not the same. The most important thing to remember is physical dependence is not addiction.

Physical Dependence

Physical dependence basically means that your body is depending on the drug to function as it would function normally. The body begins to compensate for changes the drug causes and results in psychological and physiological functions. By adding a substance into your system, you are making your body produce the chemicals needed to try and maintain the body systems normal functions. When you take the drug away, it can throw your body out of balance and cause unpleasant side effects. For example, if you introduce lots of dopamine to your body, your system lessens its natural dopamine production. When you stop taking the large amount of dopamine, you may experience dysphoria or depression because your body needs time to revert back to its original state of normal dopamine levels.

When you are physically dependent, you will experience tolerance and withdrawal. Tolerance means your body needs more of the substance to receive the same effect. Withdrawal is experienced when you lessen or completely stop your drug intake. During withdrawal, you may experience mental or physical symptoms that cause discomfort. These two experiences are signs of physical dependence. In order for you to be addicted, you must be experiencing psychological compulsions or cravings in addition to being physically dependent.

Psychology of Addiction

One way to determine whether or not you are addicted is by examining the symptoms below.  Tolerance and withdrawal are both signs of addiction. As stated, tolerance is the need for an increased amount of substance for the same effect, or lowered effect from the same amount of substance. Withdrawal is experiencing symptoms if the dose of substance is lowered or stopped. If you have to use the substance to decrease the symptoms, you may be experiencing withdrawal. The inability to control use is a sign of addiction. You cannot control the amount or time you use when you are addicted. Cravings and continued use despite knowledge of the negative effects are also signs. If you spend most of your time trying to get the drug, use the drug, or recover from the drug, you are probably addicted.

There is a big difference between being physically dependent and being addicted.

If you are addicted, seek the help you need.

Hired Power can help you find the help you deserve. The trained professionals and kind staff can help guide you down the road to recovery, finding the plan that is going to work best for you.

Call 800-910-9299 for more information.

Most Recent Blog Posts

5 Ways To Forgive Yourself In Recovery

    Sometimes, in active addiction, we do things we aren’t proud of. We may have hurt the ones we love, do things we are ashamed of, and caused harm to ourselves. We may feel guilty, embarrassed, and angry. Although you may have gotten substance abuse treatment and are...

    Read More

    Recognizing A Problem With Alcohol

      It can be fun and relaxing to go out for drinks with your friends on Friday nights after a long work week or have a cocktail before bed. Many people drink alcohol and do so regularly, but how do you know when your drinking has become a problem? When many of us think...

      Read More

      Which 12-Step Program Is Right For Me?

        12-Step programs are a common part of addiction recovery. Many treatment programs utilize a 12-Step approach, and many of those recovering choose to attend meetings after they complete their treatment. Attending meetings can help individuals maintain their recovery...

        Read More


        21062 Brookhurst St. #201, Huntington Beach, CA 92646

        ©2021 All Rights Reserved. Design & Development by Goldman Marketing Group | Sitemap | Privacy Policy The information available on this web site is provided for informational purposes only. This information is not intended to replace a medical consultation where a physician's judgment may advise you about specific disorders, conditions and or treatment options. We hope the information will be useful for you to become more educated about your health care decisions. If you are vision-impaired or have some other impairment covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act or a similar law, and you wish to discuss potential accommodations related to using this website, please contact us at