What Is Psychological Dependence and Can Treatment Cure It?

When you think about addiction, you most likely think first of this condition’s physical aspects. But there is a second layer to addiction. It changes your emotional state and behavior over time, but does not cause physical symptoms. Called psychological dependence, its signs include cravings, anxiety and irritability.

What Is Physical Addiction?

Physical addiction builds over time. For example, if you use opiates with regularity, you build a tolerance to these substances. In this tolerance, your body stops feeling the pleasant effects of your drug. So, to feel more of what makes you take the pills in the first place, you increase your dosage. This set of steps toward higher and higher dosing continues throughout your drug use.

Over time and through continued opiate use, your body slows its own opioid production. For what they need, your brain’s tolerant receptors then depend on you taking your drugs. This is a physical addiction, a condition with symptoms that include memory loss, blackouts, headaches, nausea, mood swings, depression and irritability. Other signs of physical addiction include seizures, nausea, vomiting and disorientation. To prevent the sickness you feel with physical addiction, you simply must take more of your drugs.

The only safe way out of physical addiction is through licensed addiction treatment. Only through treatment do you learn how to live well without your drug and avoid a relapse. Without being in a behavioral program of therapy for a while, you may not be able to develop the coping skills you will need to stay clean.

What Is Psychological Dependence?

Psychological dependence is a mental and emotional dependence on your substances, such as drugs or alcohol, or certain behaviors. In essence, this dependence causes the internal conflict you feel when using your substances or trying to avoid repeating the same old patterns. Despite sounding less damaging, a psychological hold is actually more dangerous to you than a physical one.

Symptoms of psychological addiction to your substances or a process include little or no appetite, denial of the problem, intense cravings, and restlessness. You may also experience a mental obsession with your drug or behaviors, struggle with insomnia, and suffer anxiety.

Getting through physical withdrawal is the easy part of treatment in comparison to your psychological recovery. Within the course of seven to 10 days in detox, you can end your physical addiction. But the mental and emotional hold of your psychological dependence requires longer-term treatment. You must learn how to live and cope without your substances. Cravings are part of the mental and emotional dependence that can follow you even through a lifetime in recovery.

Instead of being your “cure,” detox lays the foundation for your actual pathway to recovery. In your longer-term addiction treatment program, you learn how to avoid falling back into your pattern of drug or alcohol abuse. You must understand the importance of this more long-term approach to achieve lasting recovery. In addiction therapy and through other mental health programs, you learn how to change your thought processes and eliminate the hold your substance abuse has on your life.

Treatment You Need for Psychological Wellness After Addiction

Recovery is a lifelong process. Lasting recovery begins in a licensed treatment center providing an array of therapies and other programs designed for relapse prevention. Through skill-building therapies and awareness of your vulnerability to your substances, you can stop using drugs or alcohol for good. You only need to learn, then apply what you learn to put substance abuse behind you.

You can learn these key sobriety skills in programs of mental health treatment centers, anxiety treatment centers, depression treatment centers, outpatient mental health counseling, medication management programs, and medication-assisted therapy programs.

With the right treatment, you learn to work past your psychological dependence and manage your cravings. You replace negative habits, thoughts and cycles with healthy ones. Encore Behavioral Health provides the therapies and programs you need to end your drug, alcohol, or process addictions. Contact us online or call us at to propel yourself out of psychological and physical addiction and toward the happier, healthier future you deserve.

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