Sober Living

Overcoming Psychological Dependence

Many of these people make numerous attempts to curtail their alcohol use, only to find themselves reverting to patterns of excessive consumption. Classifying something as being either wholly physical or purely psychological indicates a misunderstanding of behavior as well as the brain and body connection. This erroneous belief is pertinent to the disease model of addiction in that it purports that “addiction is not a choice” because people with substance use disorders do make decisions regarding their substance abuse. The separate notions of physical dependence and psychological dependence are artificial and represent a myth regarding addictive behaviors. This myth is actually detrimental to the understanding and treatment of any substance use disorder. The term psychology is generally meant to refer to behavioral processes that relate to the emotions or the mind. The term psychological dependence is generally meant to describe the emotional and mental processes that are associated with the development of, and recovery from, a substance use disorder or process addiction.

To put it another way, physical vs psychological dependence means mental vs physical symptoms. Also, a program at an addiction recovery center will deal with them separately. Much like a physical dependence, a psychological dependence happens because of using drugs or alcohol habitually. To reiterate, people can develop a chemical dependency through legally prescribed medication. Some drugs, illegal and legal, are more addictive because they target pleasure and reward-seeking neurotransmitters. People can see when a person with an alcohol use disorder is suffering from tremors without them saying anything.

physiological dependence on alcohol

In the dependent individual, this allostatic state is fueled by progressive dysregulation of the brain’s reward and stress systems beyond their normal homeostatic limits (Koob 2003; Koob and Le Moal 2001). These neuroadaptive changes associated with dependence and withdrawal are postulated to impact the rewarding effects of alcohol and, consequently, contribute to the transition from controlled alcohol use to more excessive, uncontrollable drinking. Manifestations of these perturbations in brain reward and stress systems also appear to mediate the myriad symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, as well as underlie persistent vulnerability to relapse. When a person enters treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, the first step is typically to detox from drugs and/or alcohol. During detox, the goal is to completely remove drugs and alcohol from the person’s system.

Psychological Dependence Only

The National Institute on Drug Abuse writes that a physical dependence “occurs because the body naturally adapts to regular exposure to a substance (e.g., caffeine or a prescription drug).” Usually, it happens when a person uses a substance every day or almost every day. So, medication prescribed by a doctor can still result in a physical dependence. 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% physiological dependence on alcohol of men and 4% of UK women show signs of alcohol dependence. The term ‘alcohol dependence’ has replaced ‘alcoholism’ as a term in order that individuals do not internalize the idea of cure and disease, but can approach alcohol as a chemical they may depend upon to cope with outside pressures. 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.

When a person goes “cold turkey” like this, they usually experience physical withdrawal symptoms, which is a sign of physical dependence. Although uncomfortable, this is actually the easy part of treatment. Physical withdrawal symptoms tend to follow a timeline, and although they can vary in severity, health care professionals and addiction specialists generally know what to expect when an individual is undergoing detox. Researchers also have explored the effects of repeated withdrawal episodes on the perceived subjective effects of alcohol.

Many of us call this going “cold turkey.” This is the time when you may experience physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms may vary in intensity, and health-care professionals know what to expect and how to help you. The term psychology refers to the behavioral process related to the mind and emotions. Psychological dependence describes the mental and emotional processes that relate to developing or recovering from a substance abuse problem or addiction. Emotional dependence is just as severe as physical dependence, and addressing the mental aspects of dependence is part of an effective recovery program.

physiological dependence on alcohol

Our community offers unique perspectives on lifelong recovery and substance use prevention, empowering others through stories of strength and courage. From people in active recovery to advocates who have lost loved ones to the devastating disease of addiction, our community understands the struggle and provides guidance born of personal experience.

Other Alcohol

It is characterized by the inability to stop using a certain drug to the detriment of work, social, or family obligations. The latter reflect physical dependence during which the body adapts to the drug of choice, requiring more and more of it to achieve a certain effect. It also elicits drug-specific physical or psychological symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased.

  • But, a physical dependence can be thought of as the signs and symptoms a person displays that are tangible.
  • Together, the two create a very debilitating and vicious addiction cycle that is notoriously difficult to break without professional help.
  • Many of these signs and symptoms, including those that reflect a negative-affect state (e.g., anxiety, distress, and anhedonia) also have been demonstrated in animal studies involving various models of dependence .
  • Provides information about alcohol and drug addiction to children whose parents or friends’ parents might have substance abuse problems.
  • This causes an increase in dopamine in your brain, resulting in a relaxed warm fuzzy feeling that is often sought after with alcohol use.
  • Alcohol dependence is characterized by tolerance — the need to drink larger amounts of alcohol to achieve the same effects originally produced by lower doses — and the development of uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms when a person suddenly stops drinking.

Physical dependence, or physical addiction, means your body cannot function normally without the drug. Your body changed its ways and means to work with the drug you kept abusing. When it comes to addiction, psychological and physical dependence are two terms that are often used interchangeably.

These are the chemicals that produce feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and act as a natural painkiller.Studies have shownthat genetic factors come into play when determining how alcohol reacts in the brains of different people. Specifically, some people’s brains released more pleasure chemicals in response to alcohol, making them more susceptible to physical dependency. A full-service rehabilitation center has programs that will help patients overcome the psychological symptoms of withdrawal. We know that finding an addiction treatment program can be challenging. We understand this struggle, which is why we are uniquely qualified to help.

What Is The Difference Between The Abuse Of And Addiction To Alcohol?

There is so much help out there if you’re just willing to take the first step and ask for it. As you are an individual, here at JourneyPure, your treatment is tailored to you and to your needs, and generally consists of coping and life skills, therapy, relapse prevention physiological dependence on alcohol education, and training, which are all essential skills for living a sober, and positive life. Once you have all traces of the drug out of your system and you’re stable, you’ll be given treatment to address the psychological aspects of your addiction.

physiological dependence on alcohol

Alcohol can be extremely addictive, particularly when consumed in large quantities over a short period of time. Alcohol addiction can start with the first drink, with physical and mental causes that can rapidly escalate.

Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them. If you’re worried that you might have alcohol use disorder, don’t try to quit cold turkey on your own. Found that you had withdrawal symptoms when the buzz wore off, like trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, a seizure, or seeing, hearing, or feeling things that aren’t there.

What Makes A Physical And Psychological Addiction Treatment Program Successful?

They can use these patterns to help them move forward in the process of recovery. physiological dependence on alcohol It’s so much more than overcoming the physical sensation of withdrawal.

physiological dependence on alcohol

Many of these models involve procedures that exploit the natural tendency of rodents to avoid environments (e.g., bright open spaces) that may be considered dangerous or threatening, thereby eliciting an internal state of fear or anxiety. Other models assess an animal’s propensity to engage in social interaction with another animal of the same species (Overstreet et al. 2002) or response under conflict situations (Sommer et al. 2008). Finally, some models use operant discrimination procedures to train animals to discern subjective (i.e., interoceptive) cues associated with an anxiety-inducing (i.e., anxiogenic) state experienced during withdrawal (Gauvin et al. 1992; Lal et al. 1988). 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).

Signs And Symptoms Of A Physical Dependence

Some organizations have different definitions, use the words interchangeably or even abandon both terms altogether. (“Substance use disorder” is a preferred term in the scientific community.) Because of this lack of consistency, some ground rules can help differentiate between the two terms. We would be remiss not to mention how it impacts the addiction community. Spurred on by The War on Drugs, African Americans and other people of color are often incarcerated for similar practices for which the white population receives treatment. Our systems have detected unusual traffic activity from your network.

Those with moderate to severe alcohol use disorders generally require outside help to stop drinking. This could include detoxification, medical treatment, professional rehab or counseling, and/or self-help group support. For those two million who are abusing opioids, or 29 million people with a substance abuse disorder to successfully get through rehab, they must have professional and ongoing support and give the program their complete commitment. It’s common to sweep the thought of addiction Alcohol dependence under the carpet, and not to talk about it. However, a healthy and open dialogue needs to be encouraged to change the way people perceive physical and psychological addiction and the many modalities of treatment available. As an example, most people define dependence the situation, such as someone who has been relying on strong painkillers for a chronic condition, and who have become tolerant to them, and will experience withdrawal symptoms if they cease to take the medication.

Having diarrhea can cause dehydration which can lead to other health problems. Insomnia or lack of sleep is another physical addictive dependency attribute versus the psychological dependency attribute. Depression or a doubtful attitude can be problematic when trying to go to recovery to get help. This is a physical common addictive dependency versus a psychological dependency. Moreover, all psycho-emotional processes have physical underpinnings, deep-rooted psychological propensities significantly influence all complex actions.

Author: Deborah Weatherspoon