Specialty Behavioral Health

What is substance dependence?

One of the core features of both substance abuse and dependence is the continued use of  a substance even though it has significant negative effects.

Substance dependence is a more severe pattern of use that can result in:

  • Compulsions to use the substance
  • Loss of control
  • Inability to stop or reduce use
  • Tolerance to the substance
  • Physical or psychological withdrawal when not using
  • Problems in a variety of life areas

Substance dependence usually wreaks havoc for the individual and his or her family members and loved-ones. Many times people with substance dependence avoid treatment, but eventually seek help due to the encouragement of loved-ones or when the problems stemming from use become intolerable. Once engaged in treatment, it is common for people with substance dependence to go back and forth about whether they have a problem or need treatment.

See Links and Suggested Readings for more information about the causes of Substance Abuse and Dependence.