The words abuse and dependence have different meanings, but many do not know this, and they use these words interchangeably. Abuse refers to the improper usage of a substance for a wrong or bad purpose.
The use of these substances can be harmful to the person abusing the substance. A common example is the abuse of drugs. Dependence refers to the state of being dependent on a person or something. If a person is dependent on something, such a person needs that thing or substance to function normally.
This often occurs after a long time of exposure to such substances. The body adapts to the presence of these substances. Over time, a larger quantity of the substance is required to achieve the same initial effect.
Abuse is the habit of imbibing in the repeated use of a substance, and dependence is the condition of the user's inability to live normally without using substances. Abuse is less serious than dependence. Substance abuse is the repeated use of a substance until it becomes something that changes your behavior and physiological state.
As this occurs, the user is severely affected if he or she goes for an extended time without going up on the substance. The most common result of drug or alcohol abuse is an intoxicated feeling, which can be referred to as "high" or "buzz."
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The main difference between abuse and dependence is that someone dependent on a substance needs it to function normally. The person develops tolerance to it and experiences uncomfortable symptoms when they cease taking it — people who rely on a drug need to detox. In either case, treatment will include therapy and perhaps medications.
The words abuse and dependence are usually used in tandem to describe negative attachment to alcohol and drugs. Risk behavior, illegal activity, relationship problems, and a loss of interest in your daily life are indications that you may be abusing drugs or alcohol. Abuse also implies that you may be putting yourself in dangerous situations, compromising your health, or neglecting essential commitments in favor of abusing drugs or alcohol.