Simcoe Addiction and Mental Health

drug addiction, drug abuse, medical dependence

What is the difference between addiction and dependence?

The use of language is incredibly important when it comes to addiction as noted in scholarly research. Language can drastically change the way we express concern for loved ones and the way we treat addiction in the clinical world. It’s important to distinguish addiction from dependence as they require different attention in treatment. 

Separating addiction from dependence

What separates addiction from dependence is its psychological impact. If an individual is dependent on something, it is a purely physical state of adaptation. Dependence is sometimes necessary as a medical intervention when our bodies cannot heal themselves. An article titled “Addiction, Physical Dependence, and Tolerance,” by Assistant Clinical Professor Howard A. Heit explains the nuances between addiction and dependence in the medical world in greater detail.  

However, if dependence develops on its own, individuals are putting their bodies at extreme risk and opening a gateway for addiction.  Dependence can be treated through a detox (a gradual or complete withdrawal). The body adjusts to the absence of the substance, provided no internal damage is done. 

Addiction in relation to the body and the mind

By contrast, when it comes to addiction the body and mind have been fundamentally changed. These must be treated simultaneously. That’s why treatment centres like ours offer many different kinds of counselling. Counselling methods can be tailored to give attention to the past, the present, the future, ongoing mental disorders, small goals, self-discovery, and much more. We know that all of these categories can be impacted by addiction.

Addiction counselling targets the parts of the mind that require the most support. In the meantime, the body adjusts to withdrawal while the mind builds resilience to prevent relapse. 

An important example in the clinical world is being prescribed opiate pain medication. It’s expected in the pharmacological world to experience withdrawal symptoms after stopping such a strong medication. The medication does its job until our body is ready to heal without external support. Our bodies are no longer dependent on medication to heal. This dependence is completely separate from compulsive drug-seeking behaviour. Therefore, it’s not an addiction. But, this kind of dependence is highly dangerous when self-medicated and not done out of medical necessity. 

If you’d like help distinguishing between dependence and addiction for a specific case, please do give us a call. Our team will be helpful, compassionate and understanding in finding the most relevant information for you.

Please contact us via our telephone number at the top of our website or by using our contact form.

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