If you or someone you love is looking for meth addiction treatment in Asheville, we’re here to help. Whether you’re suffering from an addiction or a loved one is, it’s important to know the different terms people use to refer to meth abuse. Both meth addiction and meth dependence are used to describe a person who can’t quit using meth easily. However, there are subtle differences between these two words that refer to how the body and mind are affected by the drug. To learn more about the difference between meth addiction and meth dependence, keep reading. 

What is Dependence?

Dependence is a chemical reaction that occurs when your body gets used to using a substance repeatedly. Because meth produces high amounts of dopamine, using it frequently will reduce the amount of dopamine normally produced by the body. When the drug is no longer used, the user will experience withdrawal symptoms due to the lack of dopamine that their body is developing on its own. 

Dependence also occurs when the user has to up the dosage they take in order to continue feeling high. Because the body gets used to the drug, smaller doses will no longer have the effect that they used to. In turn, when the dosage is increased, it’s easier for the body to become dependent. 

Dependence refers to the chemical occurrence in which the body requires the drug in order to function normally. Without the drug, the body goes into withdrawal. However, dependence can also refer to a mental issue. 

Mental Dependence

Mental dependence refers to the fact that addicts often feel like it’s impossible to quit from a mental standpoint. They may believe that their life would be harder if they tried to quit, or that it just doesn’t seem worth it. They may also be afraid of experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they do decide to quit. Mental dependence doesn’t refer to chemical dependence but instead the feeling of being unable to quit even if you try, the feeling that you need to continue using meth for whatever reason. 

Physical Dependence

While mental dependence refers to a feeling or a struggle, physical dependence is the typical definition when referring to “dependence”. Physical dependence can happen with any drug, even those that are prescribed like anti-depressants. Physical dependence is dangerous, as drugs like methamphetamine can cause nasty withdrawal symptoms when a user tries to quit. Those symptoms include: 

  • Fatigue
  • Increased appetite
  • Agitation 
  • Insomnia
  • Paranoia
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Confusion 
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • No motivation 
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Dehydration
  • Tremors
  • Suicidal thoughts

The side effects of withdrawal from methamphetamine can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. The physical side effects often only last a few days, while the psychological symptoms often last for longer, anywhere from several weeks to several months in some cases. For many, depression and anxiety are long-lasting after quitting. 

What is Addiction?

These terms can be complicated, as they’re often used interchangeably. For the most part, dependence and addiction are the same things. They both refer to a person being physically dependent or addicted to alcohol or a drug. While dependence relies heavily on the chemical side of things, the word “addiction” is more all-encompassing, often referring to the user’s behaviors and how the drugs have changed their lives. For example, having an addiction can cause you to lose your job, drop out of school, or sacrifice your relationships. 

Being addicted to something also doesn’t necessarily mean you’re dependent on it physically, but oftentimes that’s the case. Unfortunately, these terms are used so interchangeably that they basically mean the same thing. However, addiction often has more negative connotations, as it’s connected more with meth, alcohol, and street drugs while dependence is usually used in reference to prescription medications. 

Substance Abuse vs. Addiction & Dependence

Another term often used in the addiction space is substance abuse. Substance abuse refers to the use of misuse of any type of drug, whether it’s prescribed or purchased off the street. Substance abuse doesn’t necessarily mean addiction or dependence, as those who abuse drugs infrequently aren’t technically considered to be addicts (and they definitely don’t have a dependence physically). However, substance abuse is still an issue and should be treated as such. Even infrequent drug use will put the party at risk for developing an addiction later on down the road. 

Substance use disorder (SUD) is also used in medical spaces, referring to the disease that causes addiction. It’s important to see addiction and dependence as a disease instead of a user-created problem. This helps to decrease the stigma and stereotyping, helping those with SUD/addiction get the treatment they need without feeling judged. 

Forget About the Labels

All in all, there are a lot of different labels that are used to identify someone who struggles with drug misuse. In the long run, it really doesn’t matter which labels are being used or which labels you use to self-identify. What really matters is that you’re getting the help that you need for your addiction. Finding treatment that works for you and helps you is the first step toward getting and staying clean. 

Different people are more comfortable with different terms. When referring to meth, addiction and dependence are both terms that work. However, someone who’s dependent on a drug that they were prescribed, may not like being called an addict because of the negative connotations. Either way, these terms are very similar and while one refers more to the chemical side of things and the other to personality and changes in behavior, they can be used almost interchangeably. 

Find Meth Addiction Treatment in Asheville 

If you or someone you love is looking for meth addiction treatment in Asheville, we’re here to help you. To learn more about our treatment programs and how we can help you get and stay sober, call Asheville Recovery Center at any time. We are here to answer any questions you may have about our treatment programs.

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