What is the Difference Between a Physical and Psychological Addiction?

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What are the 5 determinants of relapse?

  • Motivation.
  • Mental Strength.
  • Family & Relationships.
  • Anxiety & Depression.

The psychological side of addiction represents the compulsion of the mind to drink or use based on a perceived need the substance fills. This facet of addiction can occur even if the person doesn’t display physical dependency symptoms. Once a person begins using on a daily or regular basis, the body becomes dependent on that drug. This means the cells can’t function the way they have been without the drug they have become accustomed to.

The Difference Between Physical Vs Psychological Dependence

It is so important for you to be able to differentiate between the two before you enter a drug rehab program. Psychological substance dependence refers to the user’s perceived need for a substance, based on a strong compulsion or urge to use the substance. The user’s mind craves the substance, and the user may even be convinced he or she cannot function without the substance. This type of dependence requires rehabilitation, including therapy that generally teaching coping skills necessary to ward off compulsive behavior related to the use of the substance. Detoxification is a method for slowly weaning the body off a substance. Detoxification typically takes places at a medical facility or in-patient facility specializing in substance abuse disorders.

What is the first step in the addiction process?

Stage 1: Initiation

The first stage of addiction is called initiation, during which time the individual tries a substance for the first time.

These components are inextricably linked to the chemical changes that occur in the brain. In fact, both physical and psychological addiction activate similar regions of the brain.


As their body becomes physically dependent, the brain experiences chemical changes due to substance abuse. When the level of drugs and alcohol drops, the brain sends messages that the body needs more. Furthermore, the brain and body don’t feel “rewarded” until they receive the substance. Substance abuse includes any harmful or dangerous use of psychoactive substances. These psychoactive substances include many drugs that affect mental or cognitive processing, such as alcohol, illicit drugs, and even some legal medicines.

Once you have safely rid your body of substances, you may still need medications and therapeutic interventions to deal with lingering physical symptoms. For example, opioid addiction treatment programs may include medication-assisted treatment . These are prescription drugs that act on your brain’s opioid receptors in ways that help ease physical withdrawal symptoms and reduce intense cravings. MAT is used in combination with behavior therapy and support groups. Long-term drug or alcohol abuse leads to changes in the brains structure and function.

Not Capable of Stopping Drug Usage

People who struggle with psychological dependence perceive a need to use even if they aren’t trying to avoid physical discomfort by using. Cravings, irritability, and fatigue are typically present when someone is suffering from psychological dependence. Depression, obsession, and anger are all common experiences during psychological dependence as well. Insufficient or poor sleep can lead to other health problems like weight gain, brain fog, and a weakened immune system. Tremors or shakes are caused by disruption to certain brain areas that control motor coordination. This can progress to the point of it being difficult to use a writing utensil or silverware. The two biggest gastrointestinal problems are constipation and diarrhea in relation to physical drug dependence.

Behavior is the most important factor to consider, as in many cases, the person’s entire personality revolves around the consumption and acquisition of the drug. Psychologically dependent individuals will use the drug to combat daily life struggles and often argue in defense of their drug addiction. They struggle to feel relaxed without alcohol anymore and, to reduce their anxiety levels and feel ‘normal’, they have to drink. Depression is a common withdrawal effect of dependence and drug addiction. In general, mood swings (anger, sadness, etc.) are part of the withdrawal process.

CTRLCare Behavioral Health

Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. Talking about substance use disorder can be tricky, and not just because it’s a sensitive topic. There are a lot of terms involved psychological dependence on alcohol that, while related, mean different things. If you decide to skip the coffee one morning, you’ll probably have a pounding headache and feel generally crummy later in the day. Addiction is a brain disorder involving compulsive substance use despite negative outcomes. It’s a complex condition with both psychological and physical elements that are hard to separate.

Psychological Addiction: Meaning, Symptoms, Treatment – Healthline

Psychological Addiction: Meaning, Symptoms, Treatment.

Posted: Thu, 28 May 2020 07:00:00 GMT [source]

This can be a short-term withdrawal, such as the time between hits or drinks, or the symptoms can manifest in a more intense way as part of a formal detox https://ecosoberhouse.com/ process. Psychological addiction occurs when you do not suffer physical withdrawal from the substances you use, but you do suffer mental effects.

For some, these first steps are the hardest parts of the recovery journey and require a full team of support while the brain and body heal. Consequently, people suffering from psychological dependence will spend excess time obtaining drugs, using the drugs, and recovering from the side effects of the drugs. These individuals might neglect their responsibilities at work, home, or school in order to keep up their substance abuse. The psychological aspects of addiction are sometimes so tortuous that they are the hardest symptoms to overcome.

  • This means the cells can’t function the way they have been without the drug they have become accustomed to.
  • It’s true that when you’re struggling with addiction, it can be a very lonely experience — especially when you’re dealing with both physical and psychological issues from drug addiction.
  • Though there are differences between physical and psychological dependence, they are intertwined and feed off each other.
  • As such, the withdrawal will lead to stomach pains due to poor gut health, nausea, and vomiting.
  • The difference between physical and psychological dependence lies in how your dependence makes you feel.
  • In this situation, the only thing that matters is getting the substance and using the substance.

Because of this, a person is much more likely to want to eat chocolate regularly in the future. Because mental health and addiction concerns are so often interconnected, we utilize research-based approaches with evidence-based outcomes that promote overall healing and recovery. It allows patients to acknowledge that they exist, why they happen and actively try to change them. A therapist who specializes in CBT may ask a recovering addict to track the thoughts that happen when they want to use drugs and alcohol. They can use these patterns to help them move forward in the process of recovery. The reason for wanting to be alone can be because of shame or just the substance taking over one’s life.

Everything You Need to Know About Psychological Dependence

However, the difference is an emphasis on validation and accepting that these thoughts and feelings happen. Medical detox involves the use of prescription and over the counter medications to help people throughout the detox process. Professional detox centers may even be able to eliminate many withdrawal symptoms, making the process as easy and as comfortable as possible. In order to stop drug abuse and prevent addiction, it is important to fully understand how dependency plays a role within a substance use disorder.

what is a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol