Addiction vs Dependence vs Tolerance: Whats the Difference?

If a person is tolerant to, or dependent on drugs, this does mean the person is addicted. Tolerance and dependence can be symptoms of substance addiction. Weaning, or gradually quitting the substance, is an effective way to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Medical detox can provide a safe, comfortable environment for individuals to purge toxins in drugs and alcohol from their bodies under the supervision of clinicians. Dependence occurs when a person stops using drugs or alcohol and goes through withdrawal.

A drug dependence can be either physical or psychological and can have many negative effects on someone’s life. But the ICD has yet to catch up and since American billing systems and other records often rely on ICD, this conflation continues to cause problems both in the United States and rest of the world. There is no justification for keeping this misleading term in light of what we now know about the nature of addiction. For one, depending on a substance to avoid physical withdrawal symptoms is neither necessary nor sufficient to define addiction. Many drugs cause dependence but not addiction, for example, paroxetine [10] and clonidine [11].

Difference Between Tolerance and Addiction

Scientists still don’t fully understand exactly why this happens in some people. If your body has developed a tolerance to a medication you’re taking, it means the medication at your current dose has stopped working as effectively as it once did. There’s a lot of confusion around words like “tolerance,” “dependence,” and “addiction.” Sometimes people use them interchangeably. We offer a range of recovery options for supporting those experiencing symptoms within the spectrum of addiction. The scientific construct of addiction has a rich and evolving history. Someone may require additional supportive care, such as psychotherapy, to help them taper off medications.

Some people do well at home with regular doctor visits and support groups. And sometimes it takes more than one type of treatment to be successful. People used to believe that addiction only happened in certain areas, like in inner cities, or among specific groups of people, like those addiction vs dependence who were down and  out. But addictions can happen anywhere, from college campuses to rural and suburban towns. And anyone can become addicted, from people experiencing homelessness to business executives. Addictions can start slowly as people experiment with different types of drugs.

Addiction Treatment Services

As substance abuse becomes more frequent, the likelihood of developing a dependence disorder becomes greater. The difference between addiction and dependence can be difficult to understand. Some organizations have different definitions, use the words interchangeably or even abandon both terms altogether.

addiction vs dependence vs tolerance

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