The Difference Between Psychological, Physiological Dependence and Addiction

Lastly, meeting two of the eleven criteria will result in a substance use disorder diagnosis. The implication was that dependence was the more severe problem, and the physical aspects of addiction were prioritized over the psychological effects. Licensed medical professionals review material we publish on our site. The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice. It should not be used to replace the suggestions of your personal physician or other health care professionals. Psychologically addictive drugs include stimulant drugs such as Ritalin, methamphetamines, amphetamines, cocaine, and hallucinogens such as LSD.

Does Subutex help with pain?

Because Subutex and Suboxone are partial opiates that work to block pain receptors, they can be an attractive option for long-term chronic pain management. Compared to opioid painkillers, long-term use Subutex and Suboxone has a lower risk of physical dependency and milder withdrawal symptoms when usage ends.

Future studies should focus on elucidating neural mechanisms underlying sensitization of symptoms that contribute to a negative emotional state resulting from repeated withdrawal experience. 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. People with substance use disorders experience both physical and psychological dependencies. During physical dependence, your body becomes dependent on a substance to function.

Drug Use

It’s important to remember that you can recover from substance use disorder, whether you notice it during the dependency stage or when you’re already addicted. Substance use disorder involves psychological aspects and changes to the body’s processes. Your brain will respond differently to regular stimuli due to its altered state. Specific trauma, stressors, people, locations, and events can be triggers. However, you can still choose to not take the substance while dealing with these triggers — with addiction, it’s almost impossible to not take the substance when in these situations. Find out how long it lasts, what can help you feel better, and when it’s time to seek professional care.

physiological dependence on alcohol

Lower dopamine levels result in irritability, sadness, and other depressing thoughts. This causes a person to crave more of the drug to boost dopamine levels. When hobbies like boating, fishing or crafting no longer have a place in your life as it did before, it is a sign of dependence on substance abuse. When drugs take over and they are more important than hobbies previously enjoyed this is a social implication of dependency. The inability to stop using drugs even after health problems arise is another symptom of psychological dependency versus physical dependency. Here at Sana Lake, we offer several programs that can help each patient individually.

Psychological Dependence Examples

Recovery is achieved through psychotherapy, counseling, and substituting the addictive behaviors for healthy alternatives. No matter whether you’re dealing with a moderate or strong addiction, there’s hope. Work with a set of addiction treatment experts who can help you with your substance use disorder. For a small of number of people, the detoxification process is all they need to quit using.

There is also an overlapping of symptoms of psychological effects and physical effects. An example of one of these effects of overlapping symptoms is to redirect your food budget to buy the substance in question, which is a psychological effect. However, by doing this, you are unable to consume enough nutrients which in turn is a physical effect. About 12% of American adults have had an alcohol dependence problem at some time in their life. In the UK the NHS estimates that around 9% of men and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence. Relief or avoidance of withdrawal symptoms by further drinking.

Is There an Overlap Between Psychological and Physical Addiction?

Physical dependence is when the person’s body has adapted to chronic use of the booze, and would suffer physical symptoms when s/he stopped drinking. Incarceration and legal issues are signs of the social effect of an addict. When analyzing whether or not legal issues caused by substance abuse is a psychological dependency versus a physical dependency, evidence suggests it is a symptom of psychological dependency.

  • Lower dopamine levels result in irritability, sadness, and other depressing thoughts.
  • I’m reallllllly trying hard to study for my final exams and my ADD seems to bother me every time I touch the desk.
  • The material is not a substitute for qualified medical diagnoses, treatment, or advice.
  • Even less problematic discomforts, such as sweating and teary eyes, are both attributes of physical addictive dependence versus psychological addictive dependence.
  • Sana Lake Recovery Centeris a Joint Commission Accredited addiction treatment program.

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. As a result, painful withdrawal symptoms set in, causing most people to reach for the drug to make the pain go away. It is possible that you’ve already moved past the dependence stage, which is why early detection of these symptoms is key.


These changes interfere with other aspects of life, including work, sleep, social activities, relationships, etc. The feeling is caused by chemical reactions to neurotransmitters within the brain. Negative symptoms occur when the euphoria feeling begins to fade away as dopamine levels decrease. The decrease in mood-changing chemicals causes a person to feel irritable, tired, sad, or hopeless and experience a surge of other negative feelings. The negative feelings a person experiences cause them to crave more of the substance that makes them feel good.

physiological dependence on alcohol

When someone eats a piece of chocolate, the brain can find it very pleasurable and it stimulates the reward center in the brain. Because of this, a person is much more likely to want to eat chocolate regularly in the future. The same is true for drugs, which is how addictions are formed. Psychological dependence is when the use of substance ties to a feeling or event, called triggers. It’s not quite the same as physiological dependence, because it requires a trigger for you to crave that substance. Not unlike addiction, physiological dependency changes your brain chemistry. Tolerance does build up over time, which changes how the brain reacts to the presence of the drug.

Therapists may use a variety of approaches to help you address past wounds and maintain sobriety by learning healthier ways to think about yourself and deal with triggers. Common addiction therapy approaches include cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll learn relapse prevention skills to help you resist urges and cravings and build a supportive network of sober peers.

What is an example of psychological dependence?

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.

Alcoholics Anonymous is available almost everywhere and provides a place to openly and non-judgmentally discuss alcohol problems with others who have alcohol use disorder. If you drink more alcohol than that, consider cutting back or quitting. The term ‘recreational’ physiological dependence on alcohol is often applied to such use, conferring an apparent sanction that relates more to the latter category. Psychological dependence involves feelings of satisfaction and a desire to repeat the use of the drug in order to produce pleasure or avoid pain.

Psychological dependence only

Yes, there is a difference between physical dependence versus psychological dependence. Psychological dependence is the dependence on the drugs or the substance of choice. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

  • There is less of a hangover, but the effects are also felt less intensely, which may lead to increasing doses.
  • Chaudhri N, Sahuque LL, Janak PH. Context-induced relapse of conditioned behavioral responding to ethanol cues in rats.
  • The goal of these treatments is to help patients identify harmful thoughts or behaviors and replace them with healthier coping mechanisms.
  • Nexus prides itself on providing customized treatment plans for all of our clients.
  • Becker HC, Veatch LM. Effects of lorazepam treatment for multiple ethanol withdrawals in mice.
  • For some, this might call for a drink before heading into a meeting or taking a test.

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