Addiction

Addiction is commonly used as the layman’s or non-technical term for substance dependence. However, there is a slight difference. Since some individuals may have a physical dependence on a medication, for example, without experiencing a compulsion for ingesting or otherwise taking it into their bodies, the substance dependence in this case would not be considered an addiction. An example might be a diabetic’s physical dependence upon his insulin. The heroin user with a substance use disorder, on the other hand, is both psychologically and physically dependent upon the drug. Then, it is considered an addiction. Sometimes, the distinction between substance dependence and addiction is more difficult to make, when the substance is a prescribed medication. The diabetic’s insulin and the cardiac patient’s heart medication do not reflect addictions, even though the individuals are physically dependent upon them. But addition to prescription drugs, indicating both psychological dependence upon the drug and a compulsion to take it) can and does often occur with certain groups of pharmaceutical therapies, e.g., the benzodiazapines.