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Chemical Dependency Explained

Using mind-altering drugs has been a habit for many for centuries, despite how harmful they can be. The usage of these chemicals usually doesn’t just involve trying it just once. Instead, it usually leads to what’s known as chemical dependency, leaving a person dependent on them to function.

While nobody plans on this happening, it’s an unfortunate part of experimenting with drugs. If you’re considering trying them, for whatever reason, you risk becoming dependent on them. Though you might already know that, there are many other factors you might not have considered.

What is chemical dependency, and does it relate to a dual diagnosis? Can you get help for it? Is there anything else you need to know? It’s worth diving into these questions and figuring out if you need to get help for your chemical dependency or any potentially related issues.

What Is Chemical Dependency?

So, what actually is chemical dependency? It’s almost exactly what it sounds like. It occurs when you begin to rely on a specific chemical or drug, such as heroin or cocaine. Not all chemicals you can become dependent on are illegal, however. Some prescription drugs are just as likely to get you hooked as their illegal counterparts.

When you’re dependent on these chemicals, you’ll have an ongoing urge to keep taking them, no matter whether you’ve had them recently or not. You’ll feel like it’s an impulse or a compulsion. You might know chemical dependency under various other names, like addiction.

In time, taking the chemicals will lead to repercussions, from health to social issues, and even problems working. When you’ve reached this stage, you’re increasingly unlikely to stop taking it without some kind of help. No matter whether you want to stop taking it, you could find it’s too hard to do it by yourself.

Sobriety is the only way to overcome this, and you’ll have to get help to get there.

How It Relates To Dual-Diagnosis

There’s a chance chemical dependency happens on its own. You might’ve just tried a certain chemical and then gotten hooked, but that often isn’t the case. Instead, there might’ve been something else that led to you taking the chemical in the first place. In turn, your dependency makes that issue worse.

Alternatively, you could end up developing another condition because of it, with this often being related to your health. You mightn’t realize this until you’ve spoken to a professional about what you’re experiencing. You could receive what’s called a dual diagnosis during this period.

A dual diagnosis is when you’re diagnosed with chemical dependency and another issue at the same time. They’ll be co-existing problems and could be more related than you’d think. If you’re suffering from any mental health problems, you might be using the chemicals as a form of medication, but this can often be more harmful in the long term.

When this happens, you’ll not just have to treat the dependency itself, but also target the underlying condition. If you’re self-medicating, for example, it’s a matter of treating what you’re suffering from as you come off the chemicals you’re dependent on.


When you’re overcoming your chemical dependency, there may be a point of withdrawal. The process is an unfortunate part of treatment and can be one of the more dangerous stages of detox. As it happens, your body starts coming down from the highs associated with using the drugs.

Physical withdrawal can be a difficult phase to pass, and you can have various symptoms depending on the chemical you were using. Cold sweats, convulsions, and similar symptoms can all be a part of this. Then there’s the psychological withdrawal, during which you’ll still have the urge to take the drugs.

Both of these will need some form of help and treatment.

How Chemical Dependency Is Treated

Whether chemical dependency occurs on its own or as part of a dual diagnosis, it needs to be treated. At Jackson House, we’re here to make this as easy for you as possible. Getting treatment doesn’t need to be difficult, but you’ll need to be informed about what this actually involves.

While the treatment can depend on what other diagnosis you have on top of your dependency, it usually involves going through detoxification and group therapy. At Jackson House, we offer both, supporting you throughout the entire process. You’ll not only get both of these services but everything else you need on your path to recovery.

It’s worth diving into what both of these actually are.


Detoxification is the process of ridding your body of the chemicals you’re dependent on. The exact process and its repercussions can vary from drug to drug, with many often leading to withdrawal symptoms. That’s why professional help is needed and why you might need medical supervision as it happens.

During the process, you’ll stop taking the chemicals you were addicted to. If you were heavily dependent on them, the withdrawal symptoms could be significant. With medical supervision, though, you can effectively manage the symptoms and prevent worsened side effects.

Group Therapy

Once the detoxification is done, you could need group therapy to help you, especially if you’ve received a dual diagnosis. This form of therapy involves you and other people in a similar position, such as talking about your experiences. A trained professional is usually involved in this and helps guide the sessions.

With group therapy sessions, you can safely share your story while talking to people who’ve been through the same things as you. It’ll be a non-judgmental and safe place to actually talk about everything and get on the path to recovery.

Get Treated Today

Whether you have a chemical dependency or it’s part of a dual diagnosis, you need help that doesn’t have to be hard to get. At Jackson House, we believe in making getting help as easy as possible. We’re here to give that to you, as well as to support you in any way you need. Reach out to us today, and we’ll help you get on the path to recovery.

About the author

Jackson House

Jackson House

We built Jackson House because we realized there was a critical gap in our healthcare system and many individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse problems were struggling because of it. While there are many outpatient treatment options and locked, inpatient facilities there was nothing in the middle. Nothing to help people who needed around the clock care but wanted to receive treatment voluntarily, on their own terms. Jackson House is different. We provide clients with the level of care they need in a welcoming environment. When you walk through our doors, we will meet you wherever you’re at and help you on your journey toward feeling better.

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If you’re a provider and need to send us information on a client, please feel free to fax us at 619-303-7044. If you need help immediately, call our 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-766-4274. If you have a medical emergency, call 911. Jackson House is licensed by the State of California Community Care Licensing Division and certified by the Department of Health Care Services. We are also CARF Accredited. If you have any client or quality of care concerns, please reach out to us at (888) 255-9280. If your concerns need further attention, you can contact the Department of Public Health at 619-278-3700 or the Community Care Licensing Division at 1-844-538-8766.