There are a lot of terms and phrases that you’ll hear when discussing addiction. Two popular ones are substance abuse and chemical dependency. While many people use those phrases interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing. To understand dependency, we need to separate it from substance abuse.
The term substance abuse is really shorthand for the ways a substance affects your social and work life. For example, John blows off an anniversary dinner to buy marijuana. Jane shows up late for work all the time because she’s hung over. Jim drives when he’s drunk.
In all of these situations, using a substance damages personal lives, work lives, or is just dangerous. When using a substance becomes more important than protecting your relationships, job or safety, that’s substance abuse. Additionally, using a substance in any way other than what a medical professional intends is substance abuse.
Dependency occurs when your mind and body need the substance in order to function. Some people become dependent because of genetics, but dependency may also develop because of substance abuse. There are many signs of dependency.
A major one is tolerance, or needing more and more of the substance to get similar effects. Another is getting withdrawal symptoms when you stop. Pulling back from hobbies and relationships as well as excessive time spent finding, using and sobering up from using are all signs too.
The most telling sign is an inability to stop using, even when you know using is destroying your life.
What Drugs Lead to Chemical Dependency?
Some drugs earned a reputation for being more addictive, but people can develop a dependency on a number of substances, including:
Remember, dependency isn’t just about the substance that you’re using. Hospitals prescribe opioids on a regular basis to treat pain. Doctors routinely prescribe Xanax and Adderall for ADHD. If the substances were 100% at fault, everyone who takes them would develop an addiction.
Dependency is as much about your mental and physical response to a substance, as it is about the substance itself.
Treatment for Chemical Dependency
Treatment choices for chemical dependency vary based on your situation and level of dependency. As a general rule, the first step is a detox program to flush any substances out of your system.
After detox, you move into a rehab program. Some programs offer extended care treatment where you live at a facility full-time. In outpatient programs, you live at home but must show up for treatment on a schedule. Some of your therapy options include:
It’s common for people to move from extended care treatment into outpatient treatment as they progress.
Chemical dependency is a serious condition that can wreck your relationships, your finances, and your career. Fortunately, it’s also treatable. With time and professional guidance, you can put drugs or alcohol behind you.
Don’t let addiction decide things for you. With help from a quality rehab program, you can reclaim your life. Contact us at 866.262.0531 and we’ll help you find the path to recovery.