Is it Addiction, Dependence, or Something Else Completely?

Addiction vs. Dependence

addiction vs dependence

If you are looking for something with the ability to completely disrupt, destroy, and dismantle the lives of you or your loved ones, look no further than substances like drugs and alcohol. When drugs become an influence in your life, they have the power to strip away all of your positive attributes and replace your personality with an appalling shadow of your former self.

Despite all of its harms, drugs are greatly misunderstood by many. Even people who are currently in real danger from drugs or alcohol have a limited appreciation of their true level of risk.

The risks are pronounced, and the dangers are irreversible, so learning everything you can about drugs, addiction, and dependence could be the difference between a happy life and one full of regret and pain. This information has the power to save your life.

Drugs and Drug Abuse

Before topics like addiction and dependence can be discussed, we must start with drugs themselves because if you are only counting heroin and cocaine as potential drugs of abuse, you will be missing a huge segment of the problem. Drugs are a varied and numerous group of substances that interact with your brain to produce the desired result.

In addition to heroin and cocaine, potential drugs of abuse include:

  • Hallucinogens like LSD and mushrooms
  • Inhalants – substances that emit vapors at room temperature – like gasoline, air dusters, and glues
  • Methamphetamine and crystal meth

Though this group of substances is usually what comes to mind when someone considers drugs, it makes up a small proportion of the overall drug issue. Current users of these drugs combine for a total of only about 4.5 million people in the U.S.

The more significant drugs of abuse include:

  • Marijuana with 24 million active users.
  • Prescription pain medications with more than 3 million users.
  • Prescription tranquilizers and sedatives with 2.5 million users.
  • Alcohol with about 16 million current heavy users.
  • Prescription stimulant medications (usually prescribed for attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with 1.7 million users.

These millions and millions of people are not only using the substances. They are abusing the substances.

Abuse of an illicit drug like heroin is easy to identify because any use is abuse. The picture is much more complicated with alcohol and prescription drug abuse, though.

Those pill bottles in your medicine cabinet could present a danger more serious than illegal drugs. With prescription drugs, abuse becomes an issue when you:

  • Use the drug without a prescription
  • Trade, buy, or steal medications
  • Take the drug for reasons other than the intended use
  • Obtain multiple prescriptions from different doctors
  • Take the drug in ways other than prescribed by:
    • Using it more frequently
    • Using it in higher doses
    • Changing how it is meant to be consumed like crushing and snorting a pill
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