Female hand holding a pill which may signal her drug dependence.When someone continues to abuse drugs or alcohol, they develop a drug dependence. This dependence occurs because neurons in the mind adapt to repeated exposure to drugs. As a result, the neurons develop a drug dependence and need to have the drugs to feel normal. If the individual is unable to access that drug, then they may go through withdrawal symptoms as their body detoxes.

How Is Tolerance Different Than Drug Dependence?

While they are similar concepts, developing a tolerance to a drug is slightly different than developing a dependence on the drug. When someone has a tolerance, they require more of that drug to feel normal. Often, this occurs because the individual repeatedly uses the drug over an extended time frame.

Someone can technically have a drug tolerance without being addicted to the drug. While it is possible to just have a drug tolerance, most people with a tolerance end up developing an addiction as well. Developing a drug tolerance is just one of the first symptoms that the individual is starting to use drugs in an abusive and dangerous manner.

What Does It Mean to Have a Drug Dependence?

Each time someone uses a drug, their body develops a tolerance. The human body begins to think that drugs are needed in order to feel normal. The drug has essentially rewired the mind to require drugs. If these drugs are not used, then the individual experiences withdrawal symptoms. Since withdrawal symptoms can be quite severe, it is important to seek treatment at a drug and alcohol detox center.

Dependence is often a part of an addiction, but it can occur with non-addictive drugs as well. Basically, any drug that causes the body to adapt can lead to a dependence. The dependence itself is treatable. The patient detoxes from the drug under medical supervision until their body no longer needs drugs to feel normal.

What Happens to the Mind When Someone Has an Addiction?

Over months or years, most addictive drugs will change the brain’s reward circuit. The reward pathways in the mind are flooded with dopamine, and the body experiences pleasure. This sensation of pleasure causes the individual to continue using drugs.

Since the neurotransmitters for dopamine have been rewired, the individual may find it impossible to feel pleasure without abusing drugs. The brain produces less dopamine naturally. This causes the individual to need a higher dosage to experience the same euphoria. The individual may get less pleasure from activities they once loved, and they may resort to using more drugs to get the same pleasure.

Over the long term, drugs can cause changes to brain functions involving:

  • Memory
  • Decision Making
  • Learning
  • Stress
  • Judgment
  • Behavior

While many people are aware of these dangers, someone who has a drug dependence will often continue to abuse drugs and alcohol and may not be aware that they are addicted.

Getting Help for an Addiction

Luckily, no one has to live with the long-term pain of an addiction. At an addiction rehab center, individuals can seek treatment for their addiction. Depending on the treatment center, patients may be able to get help with:

  • Managing withdrawal symptoms
  • Getting treated for a dual diagnosis
  • Receiving behavioral therapy
  • Finding group therapy options
  • Learning about how an addiction works
  • Starting a long-term sober living goal

Since everyone has a unique background, addiction experience, and physical chemistry, it is important to get help from an individualized treatment center. Through an individualized program, patients can seek treatment for the unique causes and triggers that fuel their addiction. If you or a loved one suffers from drug dependence and addiction, help is available. To talk to an addiction expert and start your journey to the better life you want, call Beaches Recovery at 866-605-0532.