What Is Drug Dependence?

What is drug dependence? Read on to learn more about drug dependence, medicines available to help with drug dependence, and treatment options.

Table of Contents

Understanding Drug Dependence

Drug dependence is a chronic, progressive disease marked by considerable impairment and is directly related to a psychoactive substance’s persistent and excessive use; impairment can result from physiological, psychological, or social dysfunction.1 

When a person experiences dependence on drugs, they are overtaken by the need to consume one or more drugs in order to function “normally.” With this condition, people are continuously craving their desired substance, and will often stop at nothing to get it. With that, drug dependence can negatively impact a person physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and financially.

drug dependence

What’s the Difference Between Drug Tolerance and Drug Dependence?

Drug tolerance is a reduced ability to respond to a drug after repeated exposure, but dependence is considered as a compulsive urge to take a drug despite negative effects.
Drug tolerance develops over time, but substance dependence typically develops after only a few doses of a drug; this distinction explains why some persons might acquire tolerance to one drug while becoming dependent on another.

Symptoms of Drug Dependence

Drug dependence emerges gradually. Many people do not notice any changes in their conduct at first. Drug users may have trouble sleeping at night or concentrating throughout the day as time passes.2


Anxiety is a typical mental health symptom in those who use drugs. Drugs can alter dopamine levels, causing emotions and experiences to be more potent.


Drug dependence can also cause depression, while depression is more common in those with other mental health problems.

Muscle Weakness

Muscle weakness is a prominent symptom and indicator of addiction. It could be caused by various circumstances, including low amounts of vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients in the body.


Drug addicts suffer more nightmares than the normal population. The use of drugs, Alcohol, or prescription causes nightmares, vivid dreams, and odd dreams.

Body Aches

A common sign of drug usage is physical discomfort. Drug dependence can cause various physical symptoms, including body pains, perspiration, and insomnia.

People addicted to drugs or Alcohol utilize them to escape their troubles. The body begins to degrade with time. It may not seem to be a huge matter at the time, but it might lead to future health problems.


Sweating is a common side effect of drug dependence. Sweating occurs when the body sweats more than usual to cool itself down. Alcohol and drug dependence hamper the ability of the body to regulate its temperature. This can increase your body temperature, causing you to sweat more.


Although nausea is a typical side effect of drug usage, it does not automatically imply addiction. Nausea in drug dependence can be exacerbated by denial, low self-esteem, and fear of vomiting.


Even though most drug addicts vomit frequently, this does not indicate that everyone is similarly susceptible to vomiting. For example, people who have used opioids for a long period or are pregnant may suffer vomiting as a side effect of their drug use.

How Drug Abuse Can Lead to Dependence

Drug abuse can lead to dependence. Dependence on drugs consists of a physical craving for drugs that surfaces when the body relies on the drug to feel normal and avoid unfriendly effects. The first stage of dependence, typically referred to as “withdrawal” or “withdrawal symptoms,” usually lasts less than a week and affects most people once.

Having a Family History of Addiction

Addiction in the family can increase one’s susceptibility to drug addiction. Having a drug-addicted parent or someone who has committed drug-related crimes can enhance a person’s chances of being addicted to drugs.

Living in an Environment Where Illegal Drugs Are Often Used and Easy To Access

Living in an atmosphere where illegal drugs are often used and easily accessible can lead to drug addiction. Marijuana, cocaine, and even prescription drugs like opioids (pain relievers) are frequently available in the school corridor. These drugs can be extremely appealing, especially when peer pressure is intense.

Having a History of Anxiety

Having a history of anxiety might lead to drug addiction. Being unable to cope with stressful events such as work, family, and relationships can raise your risk of drug usage.

Having a History of Depression

A history of depression can lead to drug addiction when people begin to rely on the substance to feel better. They are thus trapped in a cycle of drug addiction, which is connected to depression.

Having a History of Other Mental Health Conditions

People with bipolar illness or psychosis are more likely to develop drug dependency if they have a history of other mental health disorders. According to certain studies, the sooner the start of symptoms and disease, the greater the chance of drug dependence.

Types of Drug Dependence

Dependence endangers your health. It can negatively impact your relationships, employment, school, and lifestyle. Addiction is a chronic condition, and drug dependency issues can arise quickly. The most prevalent types of drug dependence will be detailed below.

Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol dependence is a chronic relapsing condition marked by obsessive drinking despite unfavorable effects. When teenagers experiment with Alcohol for the first time, the relationship between alcohol consumption and long-term repercussions begins.3

Opioid Dependence

Dependence on opioids is a difficult medical issue that affects millions of people each year. Dependence on opioid medicines, regularly narcotics, causes a chemical dependency that can be dangerous and fatal over time.

Hypnotics/Sedative Dependence

An issue with hypnotic/sedative reliance is a chronic condition that can have far-reaching repercussions rather than a condition that should be addressed in an emergency room. If you’re having trouble sleeping, check out our list of suggestions and get back on track.

Cannabis Dependence

Cannabis dependence is a feature of the daily lives of marijuana addicts. Cannabis withdrawal disease can be fatal. Thus, many people continue taking the substance even if they can no longer function. Because of these consequences, there is an increasing interest in preventing cannabis use in adolescents and ending adult use.

Hallucinogen Dependence

Hallucinogen dependency is a psychological and physiological disorder that occurs in people who take hallucinogens regularly. Regular use of these substances has been linked to several issues, including lasting brain damage and death.

Cocaine Dependence

Cocaine dependence is a neurological condition characterized by withdrawal symptoms when cocaine use is discontinued. It is also frequently associated with cocaine addiction, a biopsychosocial illness characterized by the continuous use of cocaine.

Additional Questions Regarding Dependence on Drugs

When approaching a situation that involves drug dependence, it is important to establish and maintain a general, non-biased understanding of substance dependence and misuse. With that, there are some relevant questions to consider. These will be discussed, and answered, below.

What Does It Mean By a Drug-Dependent Person?

Drug dependence is a psychological and physical condition characterized by behavioral and other responses that result in compulsions to take drugs regularly or infrequently to experience their psychological effects and, occasionally, to avoid the discomfort of their absence.4

How Can Medicines Help Substance Dependence?

Drug dependence is a psychological and physical condition characterized by behavioral and other responses that result in compulsions to take drugs regularly or infrequently to experience their psychological effects and, occasionally, to avoid the discomfort of their absence.5

It is important to receive input from your medical professional when considering medicines and managing drug dependence.

Which Medicines Are Available to Help With Drug Dependence?

drug dependence

It is feasible to assist drug addicts in overcoming their reliance. The following is a list of the medications offered:

Opiates (such as heroin or morphine)

A narcotic analgesic is an opiate. Opioids are medications that inhibit the central nervous system and lessen pain perception.

Stimulants (such as cocaine or amphetamines)

Drugs known as stimulants raise the brain’s concentrations of the neurotransmitter dopamine. Cocaine, methamphetamine, and prescription amphetamine medications are stimulants. They are used when a person has a drug need, such as attention- and focus-enhancing stimulants like Adderall or Ritalin.


Alcohol is a viable drug dependence treatment. As it lessens the impact of withdrawal symptoms, such as the uncomfortable emotions associated with anxiety and despair, it is utilized in treating alcohol detoxification.


The most popular class of medications for treating anxiety disorders, insomnia, and Alcohol and drug dependency are benzodiazepines (BZDs). Other problems that can be treated with benzodiazepines include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and seizure disorders.


Since the medical world has been looking for ways to help lessen the number of pharmaceuticals on the black market, using nicotine to help with drug dependence has been a subject of study. It has been demonstrated that the tobacco component nicotine offers various advantages to people with drug dependencies.

Get Help With Drug Dependence at Soledad House

Treatment is available if you or someone close to you is battling drug dependence. As we are all aware, seeking assistance is never a bad idea. Get help with drug dependence from Soledad House if you’re prepared to take control of your life and begin to move forward.