What is The Difference Between Physical and Psychological Dependence

It’s important that any form of substance abuse treatment focuses on identifying triggers and teaching you healthier ways of dealing with them. Physical dependence is characterized by the body relying on an external (exogenous) source of a chemical substance to prevent withdrawal. Physical dependence is predictable, efficiently managed with medication, and can sometimes be managed by a tapering off of the substance or through participation in a medical detox program. Substance use disorder (the medical term for drug addiction) involves psychological aspects and changes to the body’s processes.

How does psychological dependence develop?

Psychological dependence is caused by consistent and frequent exposure to a drug or behavioural activity. It is often associated with effects of drug use, but it can also be caused by behavioural activity e.g. pornography.

Social and environmental factors such as peer pressure and the easy availability of alcohol can play key roles. Poverty and physical or sexual abuse also increase the odds of developing alcohol dependence. Differing views of its potential for producing dependence are discussed. The consensus opinion is taken to be that a risk of psychological dependence does exist, but only one case has appeared in the medical literature to date of physiological dependence on chlormethiazole, with withdrawal symptoms. A second case is described in which the features of increasing dosage and withdrawal were followed by confusion, disorientation, delusions, hallucinations and muscular spasm and coarse jerking. This is taken as confirmation of the potential of chlormethiazole to produce physiological dependence.

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Intensity levels are also different and may be influenced by lifestyle and environmental variables. There is no objective way to measure distress, but a person knows when they experience the symptoms (or loved ones can see it for themselves). Acknowledging the pain and finding the professional help to alleviate it and begin the appropriate therapies are essential first steps in recovery.

  • Many people with medical conditions such as diabetes, glaucoma, chronic pain, or high-blood pressure become dependent on their medication.
  • Located in Laguna Hills, CA with treatment facilities in Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Mission Viejo, CA.
  • Physical addiction manifests itself in a physical way affecting the body.
  • For example, heroin addiction treatment often includes medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which are medications and approaches that help ease withdrawal symptoms and cravings that arise during detox and the early days of recovery.
  • A psychologist can begin with the drinker by assessing the types and degrees of problems the drinker has experienced.

ACTH is carried via the blood stream to the adrenal glands (which are located atop the kidneys), where it induces the release of stress hormones (i.e., glucocorticoids) that then act on target cells and tissues throughout the body (including the brain). The main glucocorticoid in humans and other primates is cortisol; the main glucocorticoid in rodents is corticosterone. As previously noted, increased anxiety represents a significant component of the alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Importantly, this negative-affect state may contribute to increased risk for relapse as well as perpetuate continued use and abuse of alcohol (Becker 1999; Driessen et al. 2001; Koob 2003; Roelofs 1985). Indeed, both preclinical and clinical studies suggest a link between anxiety and propensity to self-administer alcohol (Henniger et al. 2002; Spanagel et al. 1995; Willinger et al. 2002).

Drugs that cause physical dependence

Repeated bouts of heavy drinking interspersed with attempts at abstinence (i.e., withdrawal) may result in sensitization of withdrawal symptoms, especially symptoms that contribute to a negative emotional state. This, in turn, can lead to enhanced vulnerability to relapse as well as favor perpetuation of excessive drinking. This latter finding suggests that elevated alcohol self-administration does not merely result from long-term alcohol exposure per se, but rather that repeated withdrawal experiences underlie enhanced motivation for alcohol seeking/consumption.

physiological dependence on alcohol

The results of the assessment can offer initial guidance to the drinker about what treatment to seek and help motivate the problem drinker to get treatment. Individuals with drinking problems improve their chances of recovery by seeking help early. Spouses and children of heavy drinkers may face family violence; children may suffer physical and sexual abuse and neglect and develop psychological problems. Women who drink during pregnancy run a serious risk of damaging their fetuses.

How Physiological Dependence Can Be Treated

This suggests that the reinforcing value of alcohol may be enhanced as a result of experiencing repeated opportunities to respond for access to alcohol in the context of withdrawal. Long-term drug or alcohol abuse leads to changes in the brain’s structure and function. Not only does physical dependence make it difficult for the body to self-regulate, but psychological dependence affects a person’s judgment, decision-making, mental health, and emotional health. 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.

Most people first go through physiological dependence, and psychological dependence before they become a true addiction is formed. Psychologists can also provide marital, family, and group therapies, which often are helpful for repairing interpersonal relationships and for resolving problem drinking over the long term. Family relationships influence drinking behavior, and these relationships often change during an individual’s recovery. Using one or more of several types of psychological therapies, psychologists can help people address psychological issues involved in their problem drinking. A number of these therapies, including cognitive-behavioral coping skills treatment and motivational enhancement therapy, were developed by psychologists. Additional therapies include 12-Step facilitation approaches that assist those with drinking problems in using self-help programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) is another example of psychological withdrawal. It’s a condition that sometimes pops up after the symptoms of physical withdrawal have subsided. You can also experience both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Psychological dependence is a term that describes the emotional or mental components of substance use disorder, such as strong cravings for the substance or behavior and difficulty thinking about anything else.

Reach out to us today to find out more about sober living in Delray Beach, Florida. So, as we delve deeper into the mechanics of addiction, keep in mind that there are new treatments which will guide you through these stages and forward into full recovery. There are several approaches available for treating alcohol problems. Although https://stylevanity.com/2023/07/top-5-questions-to-ask-yourself-when-choosing-sober-house.html severe alcohol problems get the most public attention, even mild to moderate problems cause substantial damage to individuals, their families and the community. If you or a loved one are going through any of these conditions, do not go through it alone. Feel free to contact us at Sana Lake Recovery Center for all your recovery needs.

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