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A 44-year-old member asked:

What is the difference between physical dependence vs addiction?

3 doctor answers9 doctors weighed in
Dr. Arthur Hoffman
Psychiatry 58 years experience
Very little: I believe we are splitting hairs. Same thing. If you are physically dependent, that describes the hallmark of addiction. Hope this helps. Whatever you wish to call it, get help yesterday. Talk with your doctor the day before.
Dr. Glen Elliott
Child Psychiatry 44 years experience
Physical vs mental: Physical dependence refers to the effects that occur with some substances ranging from Cocaine and nicotine to caffeine when someone who has been using them heavily try to stop. Addiction refers to a persistent need to keep doing something when you want to stop. Dependence may make that harder, but many addictions are psychological, with no physical consequences to stopping.
Dr. Pamela Pappas
Psychiatry 43 years experience
Big difference: Some medications given therapeutically can cause physical dependence. For instance, opioid pain medications taken consistently for ~30 days will cause the body to become physically accustomed to them. Tapering is needed. "addiction" means craving more ; more of the substance, focusing on obtaining ; using more -- often neglecting other life roles in the process. Big difference!

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Similar questions

A 35-year-old member asked:

What is the difference between a tolerance/dependence and an addiction?

2 doctor answers5 doctors weighed in
Dr. David Miller
Dr. David Milleranswered
Family Medicine 11 years experience
Three things: You have mentioned three different things: tolerance - needing more of a drug to get the same effect. Very common in many drugs. Dependence - a physical/psychological need for a drug, often accompanied by specific symptoms if you stop taking it. Addiction - pattern of [harmful] behaviors involving a substance or behavior; typically involves dependence/tolerance related to the substance/behavior.

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Last updated Oct 24, 2017
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