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Difference Between Dependence and Addiction

Dependence vs Addiction

Addiction or dependence to anything is not something any person wants. Due to medical reasons many people have to take drugs which are necessary for better health and the functioning of their bodies. Their bodies get dependent on the prescribed drugs, but it is not necessary that the dependence changes into addiction.

Dependence and addiction are two very different things. They should not be confused with each other as dependence for a prescribed drug doesn’t necessitate that a person needs to seek help but makes a person function better. However, an addiction of any kind needs a person to seek help and get treated for it.

Dependence of the body on a drug is a physical state. Dependence can be identified by the body showing withdrawal symptoms when the prescribed drug that is being used for long-term treatment is abruptly stopped or decreased. It is the way the body shows that it has gotten adapted to the intake of some drug. If the body does not receive it anymore, it shows negative reactions or consequences. These can happen with blood pressure medications, diabetes medications, painkillers, etc.

The physical withdrawal symptoms get controlled after a time. Dependence on drugs does not cause any negative effect on a person’s life or livelihood. In contrast, the usage of such drugs, which may be necessary for their well-being, the person’s life is restored and improved.

Addiction is a physical as well as a psychological state or dependence. Physical addiction is treatable by detoxification, but the psychological addiction is far more difficult to treat and is an ongoing struggle for the person addicted. It is a condition where the person is compelled to satisfy his needs regardless of the negative consequences.

It has been observed that some people are predisposed to addiction or vulnerable to addiction due to social influence, biological, and psychological reasons. Due to an addiction, not only the body but also the person’s productivity is reduced. The social functioning of the person is disturbed; total livelihood of a person is affected by being addicted to a drug or other substances.

Addiction can be identified by:

A person’s drug-seeking habits or cravings for other addictive substances.
Preoccupation with trying to get the abusive substance even though the body is being harmed by it.
Misusing the substance for pleasure or intoxication.
Withdrawal symptoms shown after stopping the intake.
Disturbed normal life and functioning.


1.Dependence on a medication or drug is a physical state; addiction on a medication or other substances is a physical as well as psychological state.
2.Physical dependence may decrease after some time; addiction keeps getting worse in the absence of treatment.
3.Dependence on a drug is sometimes necessary for the improved functioning of a person. For example, medication for a blood pressure patient makes his life better with the medication. Addiction is the abuse of drugs and other substances, and it makes the life worse as the person doesn’t stop taking them even if their life is being affected negatively.
4.Addiction needs to be treated; dependence does not require treatment.

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1 Comment

  1. I would like to just offer a warning to everyone who has not been prescribed pain medicine. If you ever get hurt or develop physical pain that keeps you from being able to perform your job or keeps you from doing what you have always done in the past, start with therapy. Being stronger will enable you to deal with pain better. I started with a magic pill that made me more productive, took my pain away, and it was like nothing was wrong. Now 20 years later, I have evolved into a super dependent addict. I am unhappy, discontent, unproductive, and miserable person. I look back and think why I chose this life, and realize I didn’t, I was uncaringly directed to this path without warning, and my pcp was aware of what he was doing. During my divorce in 2006 I was abruptly taken off my four 10 mg doses of hydrocodone daily and told I was just to unstable mentally for my pain medicine but I could come to this place where I controlled my dose and we’d take care of two birds with one stone. Damn that sounded appealing and it wasn’t like I had a choice anyway so I was in. Thanks Doc. I sometimes wonder why they allow family doctors to own and run methadone clinics, to me a blatant violation of the oath they took. Especially if they funnel patients from their practice to their clinic by creating a need in the patient. If you’re back hurts, get a heating pad not a prescription because I promise you this… 40 mins after you swallow that first pill, you will be in love forever. And never get two birds stoned at once, they forget how to fly! I love you all and I hope this will reach someone who has the chance to be stronger and accept that life hurts and pain is temporary. But addiction is permanent and so are the choices you make.

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