The Difference Between Chemical Dependency and Addiction?

It is easy to confuse dependency with addiction. When you are dependent on a substance you are not addicted, your body needs it to function normally due to a medical diagnosis. If you are still uncertain about dependency, this perspective may help further your understanding; an individual who is dependent on insulin to regulate their blood sugar is not addicted to insulin, but uses the medication to live a relatively normal life.

The same rational thinking can be applied to those who are currently taking opiates and are wondering if they have developed an addiction or do they depend on them to function normally. Those who are dependent on opiates will tend to take low doses and follow the instructions on the prescription bottle. They will ingest the opiate medication to preform normal functions like walking, moving, and/or accomplish responsibilities pain free.

Having a valid prescription and obtaining the medication from a pharmacy for diagnosis’s like slipped spinal disks, pinched nerve endings from accidents or injuries, autoimmune disease like cystic fibrosis or arthritis are common.

One of the biggest behaviors associated with having a dependency on opiates are meeting with your doctor regularly to discuss your condition, discuss your body’s response to the drugs you are taking, and reporting honestly about the quantity and strength of your opiate use.

When an individual becomes addicted to the substance they are taking, they tend to abuse the drug for recreational purposes and become very deceitful about their drug use and the pain they are in to their doctor to obtain more of the drug or a higher dose.

An addict can become dependent on a substance because of the way they abuse it or the addictive properties that some substances may have. Dependency can develop into an addiction without open communication to your physician and the person who has a dependency for a substance can experience withdrawals from the sudden elimination of the substance from the body.

Having withdrawals from a substance that you have been using for an extended period of time does not indicate you are an addict.  But tell you that your brain is dependent on that amount to function.

Dr. Dan Gallant explains in this video what dependency is from a psychological point of view.

1 comment
  1. Yes! The difference needs to be distinguished. There is a such thing as needing something, like insulin that was given as an example in this article. Don’t know someone for having a medical condition that requires them to take something on the regular.

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