Dependence occurs at different times for different people and has different consequences depending on the substance used, how it used and how it is administered.
When referring to addiction there are usually two types of addiction that are discussed, physical addictions where the person experiences physical withdrawal symptoms in the absence of a substance.
Psychological addiction, which goes beyond the physical symptoms and focuses on the behaviour patterns and psychology of addictions.
Usually during the early stages of drug use, users tend to have a number of 'positive support factors' (Pearson & Parker et al 1988) in place; such as non drug using relationships, a number of social and recreational options and good identification with other non-drug users. As a person's drug use and subsequent behaviour becomes more unacceptable to societies 'norms' the user may begin to move away from relationships and activities that are less accepting of drug using behaviour. This naturally results in isolation and a closer identification and relationships with other drug users.
It is not one thing that causes a person to become dependent upon substances but rather a number of factors such as attitudes, character, social norms, values, and tolerance to certain substances. A strong attachment is formed with the substance and the lifestyle over a period of time and any changes specifically with regard to cessation of use need to take these losses into account.
In his book on Excessive appetites Jim Orford focuses specifically on the uptake and overcoming of addictions which is based upon scientific evidence.
During our work with substance users we aim to include the whole of the addiction; that is to consider both the physiological and psychological aspects of the addiction when considering change.
There are substance use screening tools which can help you to determine the impact substance use is having on your life.