Dependence is a term that refers to a physical or perceived need to use a substance. It typically refers to substances such as alcohol and drugs. Addiction and dependence are two separate conditions, however, they often go hand in hand.
Before drug or alcohol dependency, tolerance occurs. Tolerance is when the body adapts or becomes used to a certain substance. Tolerance does not only apply to illicit drugs but commonly happens with prescription and non-prescription medications. To overcome tolerance, the dose is either increased or tapered down then restarted in order to achieve the same effect. Certain medications like opioids can cause dependency and addiction, so patients taking these are closely monitored.
Stopping drugs or alcohol suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms. People who are dependent on substances who abruptly stop can experience symptoms such as chills, anxiety, and irritability. These symptoms often drive people to take more of the substances. The dependence and withdrawal symptoms are some of the reasons why quitting is so hard for some people.
Interference is another concept that determines addiction. This means significant disruption in a person’s areas of functioning such as social, occupational, adaptive, and other areas of functioning.
According to the American Psychological Association, addiction is a, “chronic disorder with biological, psychological, social and environmental factors influencing its development and maintenance”.
People with addictions become mentally and physically dependent on a substance or feeling. There is a need to “chase the high”. Because of this, they can lose sight of reality and put all their efforts on this. Some people may stop talking to friends and family or have a change in personality.