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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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