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What Is The Difference Between Physical Dependence And Psychological Dependence

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Physical & Psychological Withdrawal And Recovery

What Is The Difference Between Psychological And Physical Dependence – Call 1(800) 615-1067

Before going for detox or attempting to recover from addiction, you need to understand the nature of addiction. Physical addiction should be treated in a professional detox centre to ensure the detox is conducted safely by medical professionals.

Detox is a professional rehab where recovering patients are monitored constantly and assisted when they suffer from withdrawal symptoms. Individuals with psychological addiction should see addiction therapists as they are the best-placed professionals for treating psychological addiction.

Individuals with both addictions should visit a professional rehab centre that offers medically supervised detoxification and therapy for psychological addiction.

Holistic drug rehab programs offer the best variety of treatment modalities capable of addressing many aspects of life from the emotional to the mental state of a persons health. Regardless of the type of addiction, holistic drug rehab offers the best chance of recovery.

Can It Lead To Withdrawal

When it comes to withdrawal, many people think of the classic symptoms associated with withdrawal from things like alcohol or opioids.

Left unmanaged, withdrawal from certain substances can be severe and even life threatening in some cases. Other withdrawal symptoms, like those mentioned in the coffee example, are just uncomfortable.

But you can experience psychological withdrawal as well. Think about the panic and fear in the third example above.

You can also experience both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is another example of psychological withdrawal. Its a condition that sometimes pops up after the symptoms of physical withdrawal have subsided.

Some estimates suggest approximately 90 percent of people recovering from opioid addiction and 75 percent of people recovering from alcohol addiction or other substance addictions will have symptoms of PAWS.

Symptoms usually include:

  • difficulty managing stress
  • trouble with personal relationships

This condition can last for weeks, even months, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Symptoms might also fluctuate, improving for a period of time and intensifying when youre under a lot of stress.

What Is A Psychological Addiction

Psychological addiction is closely linked to physical addiction in that it is also driven by increased dopamine production in the brain. Those who enjoy the effects of drugs and alcohol, or who suffer from behavioral addictions will continue using those substances and engaging in those behaviors on behalf of increased dopamine levels. Psychological addiction occurs when drug abuse and harmful behaviors are prioritized above important obligations, and become central to an individuals emotions, thoughts, and daily activities.

Those who suffer from psychological addiction often believe they need to engage in certain behaviors to feel good and achieve euphoria despite the negative consequences associated with those particular behaviors. For instance, an individual who suffers from marijuana addiction may feel that they are unable to relieve anxiety without using the drug, while those who suffer from shopping addiction may feel as though shopping is the only way they can effectively relieve depression.

Psychological addiction often causes changes in ones behaviors and thought patterns. This addiction type is commonly marked by cravings, which can occur years after someone has quit drugs and alcohol or overcome behavioral addiction. Cravings are generally defined as a powerful desire for something such as the euphoria produced by drugs and alcohol, or the rush of dopamine experienced when passing a challenging level on a video game.

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North Jersey Recovery Center Helps Patients With Physical Dependence And Psychological Dependence

North Jersey Recovery Center believes that addiction is a disorder that affects both the body and mind. Treating physical dependence without psychological dependence is ineffective. We create personalized plans for each individual who enters our facility to give them the tools for long-lasting recovery.

We teach patients why a physical vs psychological dependence matters and how to deal with both positively.Contact us now to see how we can help you or a loved one overcome chemical dependency.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Laura Riley

Laura Riley, MA, LCADC, CCS is an Administrator with North Jersey Recovery Center.

Getting Defensive Or Making Excuses For Drug Use

Drug abuse and addiction 2015

A common psychological symptom of dependence is making excuses or getting defensive about your drug use. When a person becomes addicted to a drug they may go to far lengths to be able to use it again. This can mean being deceptive or making excuses to loved ones or friends. This only makes the situation worse and justifies further use of the drug. This is a clear psychological symptom in terms of physical vs psychological dependence.

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Understanding Physical Dependence Vs Psychological Dependence

Physical dependence is about your bodys reactions. Its a way of describing what happens when you drink or do drugs and how your body responds when you attempt stopping. Thats what leads to a sometimes debilitating withdrawal. Its why a lot of people are unable to get over their addiction.

Common side effects produced because of a physical dependency can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Shaking
  • Nausea

The intensity of withdrawal symptoms from your physical dependency varies. Certain substances produce a more intense reaction than others. The length of time youve been addicted to drugs or alcohol and the amount you consume at a time also play a role.

Psychological symptoms can manifest through:

  • Cravings for drugs or alcohol
  • Having your thoughts consumed by thoughts of drugs or alcohol
  • Panic at the idea of not being able to get more drugs or alcohol

Your psychological dependence can make you feel out of control. That leads to difficulty dealing with your emotions or having reactions out of proportion to a specific situation. Many people with psychological dependence start having problems in their relationships. You may stop doing things like hanging out with friends or family or going to work.

Treatments For Substance Dependence

The treatment varies according to the substance. Generally, it follows the principles that make treatment effective. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the key outtakes for these are the following:

  • There is no one/single treatment for all users. It usually involves a mix of medications and psychotherapy, among many other interventions.
  • Addicts need to have immediate access to treatment for best results.
  • Treatment does not have to be voluntary to be effective.
  • Effective treatment sees through the patients many needs, not just his/her addiction.
  • Treatments should consider the occurrence of other mental problems, as well as other infectious conditions such as HIV, Hepatitis B/C, and Tuberculosis.

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Here Are Common Therapies For Psychological Addiction:

  • Individual counseling. Patients meet one-on-one with therapists to identify and overcome the root causes of their addiction.
  • Group counseling. Group therapy allows patients to bond with others in recovery who share similar struggles with addiction, and to openly discuss their thoughts and emotions surrounding addiction.
  • Family counseling. Families affected by addiction can learn more about causes and behaviors associated with addiction so they can help their loved ones achieve lasting sobriety.
  • Experiential therapy. These therapies focus on experiences that help patients address, cope with, and overcome psychological addiction. Examples of experiential therapy include equine therapy, art therapy, and wilderness therapy.
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT helps patients identify and overcome negative behaviors and thought-processes driving their addiction.
  • Contingency management intervention. Patients who remain abstinent from drug and alcohol use are given rewards in the form of vouchers, gift certificates, and other prizes to encourage and reinforce sobriety.
  • Twelve-step support groups. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are common 12-step facilitation therapies that teach patients how to recover from substance abuse and stay sober for life.

Substances Associated With Psychological And Physical Dependence

What is the difference between physical dependence and addiction?

The general observation here is that all substances of abuse are associated with both psychological and physical aspects of dependence however, many sources separate the aspects of the development of a substance use disorder and the withdrawal process into substances that are associated with withdrawal symptoms that are primarily psychological in nature. Typically, these substances include:

  • Most stimulants, including cocaine and Ritalin
  • Most hallucinogenic drugs, such as LSD
  • Cannabis products
  • Many inhalant products

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Differences Between Psychological And Physical Addiction

Physical dependence is characterised by withdrawal symptoms that make a person feel physically ill. Psychological dependence is characterised by strong urges to use a drug/substance despite the obvious negative effects. You can be physically dependent on a drug without being dependent psychologically.

For instance, an individual who has used benzodiazepines for years to deal with chronic insomnia can become physically addicted without experiencing uncontrollable urges. Its also possible for a person to be psychologically addicted to a substance only. Drugs like marijuana dont cause withdrawal in all users. However, users can have a hard time quitting.

Psychological Dependence Vs Addiction

Knowing the difference between psychological dependence and addiction can be a valuable tool in recovery. Substance dependencies both physical and psychological frequently lead to addiction.

Addiction refers to the combination of both psychological dependence and physical dependence on a substance, object or activity. In other words, when an individual has developed an addiction, they exhibit a chronic psychological need for a habit-forming substance, along with experiencing the physical effects of dependence.

Addiction, or the compulsive use of a substance like drugs or alcohol, can cause changes in the brain, including areas critical for judgment, decision making, behavior control, memory and learning. Addiction can also influence the part of the brain that controls pleasurable feelings, which can create a reward response or psychological dependence on a substance or activity. When the addictive substance is not supplied, an individual who has already formed a psychological dependence will experience physical withdrawal symptoms.

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How To Find Help For Psychological And Physical Dependence

Struggling with addiction and trying to separate physical from psychological dependence on your own can be more difficult than when you have support. If you or a loved one are struggling with a substance use disorder and need drug addiction recovery in Tampa, help is available. In-person and virtual recovery meetings, as well as telehealth services, are available through Phoenix House Florida.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, speak with a specialist regarding drug rehab in Tampa. To schedule a consultation with Phoenix House Florida, please request an appointment today.

Disclaimer: The contents of this website are for general educational purposes only. All content and media on the Phoenix House Florida website does not constitute professional medical advice nor is the information intended to replace the services provided by Phoenix House Florida or other qualified medical professionals. If you believe you are having a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.

Professional Help Is Needed To Break The Cycle

Chapter 4

For those in the grips of drug addiction, they must seek professional help to break the vicious cycle of both physical and psychological addiction. Attempts to quit drugs by going cold turkey or using self-invented detox methods often do more harm than good. By undergoing drug treatment at a reputable drug treatment facility, addicts will receive individualized care and get the tools and support they need to live a healthy and happy life in recovery.

If you, a family member, or a friend is dealing with drug addiction, you may be unsure of what options you have or who you can turn to for advice. Contact your local addiction treatment center, counselor, or a family doctor to see what treatment programs and services will best fit your needs. Early intervention offers the best chance of recovering from addiction so dont wait

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The Differences Between Psychological And Physical Dependence

While both kinds of dependence often happen in tandem, there are some differences in how they are addressed, particularly when it comes to the early stages of recovery such as a detox program. The physical symptoms, such as aches and pains, can all be very difficult during this time. However, these physical symptoms often last a much shorter amount of time after ones last engagement with an addictive substance or behavior.

While physical symptoms can begin to subside within about a month, the effects of ones psychological dependence can last much longer, continuing to produce a great deal of anxiety, depression, or other symptoms that need to be addressed throughout detox, residential, sober living, and outpatient care. Creating individualized approaches to each persons recovery program is essential in addressing the unique ways that ones psychological dependence can continue to manifest. Furthermore, it is crucial for creating pertinent coping strategies to restructure ones mental and emotional state.

Treatment Difference Between Physical And Psychological Dependence

In treatment, the difference between physical and psychological dependence matters. In fact, treatment professionals map the course of your programs and therapies according to your type of addiction. They get to know your dependence and related factors for treatment before you start on your road to recovery.

With a physical addiction, you need medical drug detox. Medical detox helps you safely and comfortably get through the ill physical effects and negative mental symptoms of withdrawal. At the end of detox, you enjoy being clean and sober for the first time since your addiction set in. You also feel ready for rehab treatment, to address the problems that led you into dependence, in the first place.

If you suffer only a psychological dependence, you still possibly need some time in medical detox. This time helps ensure your body safely cleans itself of the toxins related to your substance abuse. Although your stay proves less physically intense than for physical addiction, detox treatment keeps you safe and comfortable.

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Drinking Addiction: Psychological Or Physical


The other effects include slurred speech, suicidal ideation, disinhibition, change in libido, skin rash, anterograde amnesia, concentration problems, and urinary retention. Taking the first step towards recovery can be daunting, but knowing your options for care is paramount to your success.


For example, someone who is psychologically dependent on drugs or alcohol might continue drinking even after multiple DUIs or legal consequences. Furthermore, people with psychological dependence will experience strong and recurring urges to use drugs, even when they want to stop. When people continue to use drugs or alcohol after becoming tolerant to them, they will develop a physical dependence where they experience withdrawal symptoms when they dont take the drug. However, certain substances Alcoholism in family systems have a higher risk of physical dependence than others. For example, drugs like alcohol, benzodiazepines, methamphetamine, and opioids may result in physical dependence faster than drugs like marijuana or ecstasy. Still, repeated use of any addictive substance can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. A complex interplay among numerous biological and environmental factors governs the motivational aspects of alcohol-seeking and drinking behavior throughout the addiction process.




What Drugs Can Cause Physical And Psychological Dependence

Is there a difference between physical dependence and addiction?

Many substances can cause physical dependence, psychological dependence, or both. Some drugs, like stimulants , hallucinogenic drugs , cannabis, inhalants, and antidepressant medications primarily cause psychological dependence, while drugs such as alcohol, opiates , benzodiazepines , and barbiturates produce strong physical dependence symptoms. However, for many people, a combination of both physical and psychological dependence is common.

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Treatment Differences Between Physical And Psychological Dependence

When treating physical and psychological drug dependence, the difference between the two matters. Professionals actually prepare treatment programs and therapies based on the type of addiction. The dependence, as well as related factors, are critical before a person has a decent chance of recovering from addiction.

Physical addiction requires medical drug detox. This detox helps a person get through the physical effects and mental symptoms of addiction safely and comfortably. After detox, you should be able to live a sober and clean life. Detox also prepares a person for rehab treatment to address the main causes of drug abuse.

Psychological dependence may also require medical detox in some cases. The main purpose for this is to ensure the body cleans itself from drug toxins safely. While the stay can be less intense when compared to physical addiction, detox treatment guarantees safety and comfort. In a nutshell, detox isnt a must for psychological dependence.

Similarities Between Physical And Psychological Addiction

Above we have focused on how physical and psychological addictions differ. Now we focus on how they are similar to one another.

One key element both types of addiction have in common relate to their effects on the brain. This is because both types of addiction tend to affect the brain’s reward system known as dopamine. Over time the body builds up a resistance to dopamine meaning more of the substance is needed in order to feel normal.

Another similarities between psychological and physical addiction is how both types of addiction is treated. Physical addiction requires a supervised detox whilst a psychological addiction does not. However this is where the distinction ends. Following detoxification, the mental causes of physical addiction are treated in exactly the same manner as psychological addiction i.e., cognitive behavioural therapy, psychotherapy and holistic therapies, education, nutrition and relapse prevention.

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How Are Addictions Diagnosed

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that 19 to 20 million people in the United States suffer from some form of substance use disorder.

The diagnosis of a substance use disorder is based on behavioral criteria that are formulated into diagnostic symptoms by APA. In order to be diagnosed with an addiction, a person must meet a specific number of these diagnostic criteria, and the substance use must also result in the person experiencing significant distress and/or impairment in everyday functioning.

There are no medical tests that can be used to diagnose any type of addiction.

Physical Addiction Is Just That Physical

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Physical condition is a state of dependency that causes what refereed to as unpleasant physical symptoms. These symptoms occur when the drug is no longer taken or if it is ingested in smaller doses. Often, physical addiction requires higher and higher levels of drug to be satisfied.

Other symptoms that define physical drug dependence include:

  • Loss of personal control
  • Neglecting personal activities
  • Drug use taking precedence over everything else
  • Serious withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, jumpiness, nausea, insomnia, depression, and even delirium tremens , a potentially life-threatening situation

Physical addiction is no laughing matter: it affects millions of people across the country and can ruin lives. However, it almost always goes hand-in-hand with psychological addiction. The science of addiction is complex and psychological problems and addiction is almost always an influence.

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