What Defines Chemical Dependency?

Chemical dependency, in its simplest form, is the perpetual need to use a substance so a person can feel normal.  Simple definitions like this hardly grasp the depths of what chemical dependency truly is though.  

When a person abuses drugs or alcohol the chemicals begin to change the structure of the brain’s neural pathways and pleasure center.  Once someone uses enough of a substance the new patterns in the brain wire together and form an addiction.  Addiction is not considered a mental illness, but a disease.  

Evidence suggests it may be easier to become chemically dependent if substance abuse has been in your family, or if you have a certain personality type.  However, these are only theories and many who become chemically dependent possess neither trait.  

Warning signs of chemical dependency

  1. The first early sign of chemical dependency is an increased tolerance.  A user finds they have to take more of a substance in order to get the same effect.
  2. Many who are chemically dependent get headaches, become shaky, or feel ill in some way once the substance begins to leave their system.  These are signs that the body now needs that chemical in order to function normally.
  3. A chemically dependent person withdraws from relationships that were once important.  Their drug of choice is now the focal point of their life.  Often relationships are set aside for the new drug-using circle of friends.
  4. Responsibilities become less of a priority for the chemically dependent person.  Now that they are focusing on obtaining and using drugs, day to day responsibilities like work, family, and school are less of a priority.

Behaviors of a chemically dependent person

  1. Someone who is chemically dependent will not stop using the drug even if it is causing significant obstacles in life.  Many who are addicted experience health issues, failed marriages, broken families, and trouble with the law.
  2. Mood swings including agitation, anger, and sometimes violence occur if a chemically dependent person does not get their substance regularly.
  3. Many may lie or hide their drug use, or the quantity of a drug taken.  This is a protection mechanism used in hoping observers may not think there is a problem.

One of the biggest signs that chemical dependency has taken hold of someone’s life is when they try multiple times unsuccessfully to quit.  For those individuals who find themselves unable to break an addiction’s hold it is imperative to seek professional treatment quickly.  



The Lakehouse Treatment Center understands the worlds of active addiction and active recovery. Years of comprehensive experience have helped us build a unique program focused on changing lives and rebuilding families. From detox to sober living, The Lakehouse program focuses on learning how to live and have fun again- a treatment experience like no other. Call us anytime: 877.762.3707


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