What is chemical dependency? Is it different from substance use, substance dependence, or addiction? You may come across a variety of terms when researching the treatment of alcohol or drug abuse. We created this quick guide to help you understand the most significant differences so you can make educated decisions for dual diagnosis treatment in Washington.
What is Chemical Dependency?
The simplest definition of chemical dependency is a physical or mental need for the continuous application of an illegal or legal substance. When you look at it in more depth, chemical dependency goes beyond occasional social use. It indicates the need for substance use treatment from trained professionals.
The most common signs of chemical dependency include:
- The need to increase your dosage of the substance to feel the effect. Low doses are no longer sufficient to ease your physical symptoms or provide mental satisfaction.
- You go through withdrawal symptoms if you go without the substance for any length of time.
- You can’t or don’t want to stop using the substance even after suffering or becoming aware of short- and long-term side effects. Using the drug to feel better is more important than the impact on your family, your body, and your quality of life.
- You spend most of your time securing your next supply of the substance. Activities surrounding the substance or chemical become more important than things and people you previously enjoyed.
- You start to withdraw from your friends and loved ones who don’t enable or support your use of the substance.
Chemical dependency is the same thing as substance dependence or addiction. Most people gradually transition from casual or recreational substance use to complete dependency. It’s possible to enter an alcohol and drug recovery program before dependency sets in, which may make addiction recovery faster and easier.
What is Chemical Dependency for Legal Substances?
You may assume that chemical dependency only applies to illegal drugs like meth or cocaine. Still, you can develop a dependence on legal prescription medications and even supplements or over-the-counter medicines. If there is any substance or chemical that you cannot function in daily life without, there’s a good chance that you’re an ideal candidate for our professional addiction therapy services in Portland, Oregon.
Chemical Dependency vs. Substance Use
What is chemical dependency, and how does it differ from substance use? These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. When you start using any type of drug or substance for recreational pleasure or medicinal purposes, it starts to alter your brain, central nervous system, and other bodily processes. When the substance effects too much of your life, reach out to the Tigard drug rehab center in OR.
If you take a substance or chemical for a short period and then allow it to fully exit your body without withdrawal symptoms or cravings for more, you’re not suffering from chemical dependency or substance use. You cross the line into substance use territory once you continue to use the chemical or substance for an extended length of time, against doctor’s orders, or in violation of useful recommendations from the manufacturer. At this point, you’re abusing the substance but could likely stop taking it for a while without severe withdrawal symptoms or mental, physical, and emotional agitation.
If you’re unable or unwilling to stop taking the substance despite disruptions to your life or adverse side effects, you have developed a chemical dependency. Your body needs the chemical to function without uncomfortable side effects or significant mental anguish. You will likely do whatever it takes to secure the substance to continue your day without a lot of pain and discomfort. At this point, you may not even enjoy the high or euphoria that you once associated with the substance. It’s more about survival than pleasure. Contact Crestview Recovery at this point for safe detox programs and addiction treatment therapies.
Learn More at Crestview Recovery
Crestview Recovery offers comprehensive addiction therapy and substance use treatment services in the Pacific Northwest, including but not limited to:
- Dual diagnosis treatment in Oregon
- Individual and family therapy
- Mental health disorder treatment in OR
- Rehab aftercare in WA
- Gender-specific rehab
If you suspect chemical dependency is impacting your life or that of someone you love, you don’t have to suffer alone. We can help you regain control of your life, but you have to take the first step by calling us at 866.262.0531. We can help you walk the road to recovery successfully.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.