Withdrawal and dependence.
Terms like withdrawal, detox and dependence are thrown around heaps when talking about drugs or alcohol. What do they actually mean?
Withdrawal is the term used to describe what you experience when you stop using or reduce the use of a drug or alcohol. Stopping or reducing use doesn’t always mean you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is generally related to the idea of dependence.
“Physical dependence” is where a person’s body gradually becomes used to having a particular substance so that that substance becomes part of what the body needs to function normally. "Psychological dependence" is where a person’s use of a drug has become such a part of their daily life or plays such an important role for them that reducing or stopping is difficult. Your level of dependence and whether or not you experience withdrawal symptoms is usually related to:
- The type of drug (s) used (some are more likely to cause more physical dependence than others)
- How long you’ve been using
- How often you use
- How much you use
Some drugs like benzos and alcohol (if used for long enough and regularly enough) have the potential to cause withdrawal symptoms which can be really serious for your health. Although it is really uncommon for young people, it’s probably best to get some advice or seek medical guidance if you think you may be dependent on one of these and you plan to stop using.