Physical addiction or psychological addiction Is there a real difference?

Physical dependency on a drug can manifest as tolerance to the substance or as withdrawal. These are considered symptoms of SUD, however they don’t need to be present for the diagnosis of SUD to be made. Tolerance is when you need larger amounts of the drug to get the same effect. Withdrawal symptoms are physical symptoms that occur when the substance is decreased or stopped as the body readjusts to not having the substance. Physical dependence is a natural expected physiological response to drugs such as opioids, benzodiazepines, antidepressants, stimulants, and corticosteroids.

  • Fortunately, Volkow and her colleagues’ argument carried the day with the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 committee in 2013.
  • In addition, symptoms must not meet the criteria for substance dependence for the class of substance.
  • A person who is addicted typically struggles to meet work, social, and/or family obligations.
  • Chemical dependency is broader and may include other physical signs like an increasing tolerance to the substance, or withdrawal symptoms when someone tries to quit or cut down on using it.
  • It also emphasizes that the condition is a diagnosable, chronic, and relapsing brain disease, not a moral or personal failure.

This is a supervised clinical environment where one can safely work through the withdrawal period that accompanies a SUD, to rid their body of the toxins from drugs and alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms from certain drugs can be fatal, so it is important that detox is done professionally, in a safe and controlled medical facility. If you think you might have an alcohol problem, discuss it with a healthcare provider.


Addiction is characterized by an inability to stop using a substance, despite the harmful consequences. A person who is addicted typically struggles to meet work, social, and/or family obligations. Generally, this person will also have built a tolerance to their drug of choice, and experience painful withdrawal symptoms (mental or physical) upon stopping use of it. Behavioral addiction such as internet addiction is similar to drug addiction except that in the former, the individual is not addicted to a substance but the behavior or the feeling brought about by the relevant action. In addition, the physical signs of drug addiction, are absent in behavioral addiction.

dependence vs. addiction which is worse

They can offer advice on how to approach your treatment and assist you with the process of detoxing, withdrawing, and recovering from alcohol use disorder. Everyone’s experience with alcohol is different, but effective treatments are available, whether your condition is mild, moderate, or severe. The risk of methadone dependence does warrant cause for concern; however, the effects of methadone dependence pale in comparison to the devastation that opiate addiction can wreak in a person’s life. That being so, understanding methadone’s overall purpose and therapeutic benefits can go a long way towards making an informed decision when considering methadone as a long-term maintenance treatment. Recognizing the difference between an addiction and substance dependence can help to better understand the nature of addiction.

Treatment for Both Physical and Psychological Addiction at Gateway

Preventing substance use disorders in these cases begins with screening the patient for prior or current substance use problems and assessing their family history of substance misuse or addiction before prescribing a psychoactive medication. It also includes closely monitoring patients who are prescribed such drugs. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 22.7 million Americans need help treating a drug or alcohol problem.

Other professionals who diagnose addiction (e.g. social workers, physician assistants, nurse-practitioners, addiction counselors) also need better education about these distinctions. Amidst the worsening polysubstance overdose crisis driven by illicitly-manufactured fentanyl, accurately identifying opioid use disorder is crucial to target effective treatment and harm reduction efforts. Frequently, payers, health care providers, and even epidemiologists utilize claims addiction vs dependence data based on diagnosis code data to guide policy and treatment. However, a recent study [1] raises significant concerns about the accuracy of these diagnostic data. The problem, we argue, is caused by confusingly-worded International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-9 and ICD-10 codes, which reflect a general misunderstanding of the difference between addiction and physiologic dependence. Substance use disorder and physical dependency are related, but not the same.

Addiction Treatment Programs

Researchers concluded that there are similarities and differences between diagnostic symptoms of drug addiction and behavioral addiction. Those with moderate to severe alcohol use disorders generally require outside help to stop drinking. This could include detoxification, medical treatment, professional rehab or counseling, and/or self-help group support.

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Posted: Fri, 06 Oct 2023 15:05:10 GMT [source]

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