Defining Addiction: The difference between addiction and dependence

There’s a fine line between abuse and addiction when it comes to drug and alcohol use. The difference can be hard to decipher. Some people believe that dependence and addiction are the same, however, there is a rather distinct division of the two.


Dependency is what people allude to when they’re talking about physical dependency on a substance. People that are dependent on a substance will usually go into physical withdrawal, and quite often have a very high tolerance to their substance of choice. You can be physically addicted to a substance without being a full-blown addict, but if drug or alcohol use continues then addiction tends to loom in the very near future.


Addiction also constitutes one being physically dependent on a substance, but it also includes much, much more. When someone has reached the point of addiction, their substance of choice pretty much becomes their main concern. Behavior becomes erratic and the person they were is often not the person they’ve become.

For the addict there are periods of extreme highs and very low lows. If an addict doesn’t have whatever they’re addicted to their actions will show it. Withdrawal when you’re addicted isn’t pretty. People tend to act unreasonable and irrational, and may not seem like themselves at all.

Symptoms of addiction include:

  • Changes in Appearance

By the time someone is addicted, it’s likely the way they look has begun to change. From poor hygiene and an unkempt appearance to sallow skin and weight loss, the physical conditions of addicts can go from bad to worse very quickly. In some cases people become unrecognizable to even those who’ve known them for years.

  • Relationship Problems

If someone’s an addict they’re going to have problems with more or less everyone in their life. Whether they’re lashing out at, defying, or ignoring those closest to them, relationships take on a completely different tone. Problems with co-workers and bosses are common, as is acting out against teachers and other authority figures.

  • Using in Secret

Hiding drug or alcohol use is a very common sign of addiction. Covering up or lying about substance use is a big red flag. If you or someone you know is taking precaution to ensure that others don’t find out about their substance abuse, addiction is most likely the reason why. Someone who’s addicted will also begin using alone, and will more than likely lie about this behavior.

  • Lying

Addicts are known to lie not only about their substance use, but about different activities and things they’ve done. Addiction can make someone extremely manipulative. Whether they’re lying about where they’ve been, who they’ve seen, or something they did, when someone has succumb to addiction dishonesty becomes part of normal behavior.

  • Disregarding other Activities

Addicts tend to neglect the things they once did. Whether spending less time engaged in things that used to bring them joy or they’re skipping school or missing work, there’s little regard to activities that were once pleasurable. Less and less time is spent with friends and family, while more time is spent with people who support one’s unhealthy behaviors.

  • Loss of Control

When addiction takes over and life starts spinning out of control you’ll know it. Once addicted, it can seem all but impossible to overcome the urges to use. Drug and alcohol use increases to the point where it’s taken over much of a person’s life.

Addiction literally changes the way the brain functions. From uncontrollable cravings to inflicting harm on one’s self and other people, addiction takes over someone’s life until they are but a shadow of the person they once were.

When it’s Time for Action

Getting help before someone reaches the point of addiction is ideal, but unfortunately isn’t always the case. If more people understood the nature of their dependency and realized that the potential for addiction loomed right around the corner, perhaps we wouldn’t have over 20 million people addicted to drugs and alcohol in the United States alone.

Whether you feel you or someone you love is bordering on (or has surrendered to) drug or alcohol addiction, it’s important to seek some kind of help. In 2014, over 47,000 people died from overdose. This means that on average over 100 people every single day are dying from drug or alcohol related problems.

It’s vital to get help before it’s too late. Unfortunately, many people that have a problem live in a perpetual state of denial. Whether still bordering in a state of dependency and thinking they have control over their “habit”, or they’re in a full-blown addicted state, acknowledging this doesn’t come easy.

No one ever said addiction was easy, however. It is one of the most devastating things that can happen to someone, and it can happen it anyone. It’s important to take action as soon as you realize there’s a problem. Doing so could save someone not just from the dark reality of addiction, but could save their life as well.

If you are on the verge of addiction or know someone who is, Ibogaine treatment can help. Ibogaine has been known to reduce withdrawals significantly for drug and alcohol addicts. For more information on Ibogaine please contact us.