Physical vs Psychological Addiction: Understanding the Difference

It’s important to understand the differences between these types of addiction in order to better understand addiction and how to treat it. Understanding the distinction between psychological and physical addiction is crucial in comprehending the complexities of addiction. In this section, we will focus on physical addiction, its definition, and key characteristics. Physical addiction, on the other hand, involves the dependence on substances that directly affect the body and its chemistry.

  1. Addiction can take different forms, and there are significant differences between psychological and physical addiction.
  2. These individuals will often resume alcohol and drug use in an effort to relieve their symptoms — increasing the risk for relapse, overdose, and death.
  3. Others seem more affected mentally, as you develop a deeply rooted craving for a certain substance that changes your psychological behaviors.
  4. Psychological addiction is often caused by a person’s mental or emotional state, while physical addiction is driven by the body’s physical dependence on a substance.
  5. The main purpose for this is to ensure the body cleans itself from drug toxins safely.

Professional detox centers may even be able to eliminate many withdrawal symptoms, making the process as easy and as comfortable as possible. Addiction can be defined as a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive drug use or engagement in a behavior, despite negative consequences. It is often accompanied by a strong craving for the substance or activity and a loss of control over its use.

What Triggers Physical Addiction?

By the time you have completed reading this post you will gain a good understanding of these important concepts. Behavioral addictions are often triggered by factors such as genetics and personality, and often coincide with substance abuse. Examples of behavioral addiction include addiction to sex, exercise, and video games. For instance, those injecting a potent, highly addictive substance like heroin on a regular basis can become physically addicted to the drug after a matter of days. Addiction is a complex and multifaceted condition that affects individuals from all walks of life.

Everything You Need to Know About Psychological Dependence

Adi Jaffe, Ph.D., is a lecturer at UCLA and the CEO of IGNTD, an online company that produces podcasts and educational programs on mental health and addiction. We shadow our clients on their journey to recovery; understanding their addiction history and working in unison to create long term effects of salvia a new future –  sustaining recovery and changing lives for all of our clients. Talking about substance use disorder can be tricky, and not just because it’s a sensitive topic. Discover how long it takes to break the chains and find strategies for a caffeine-free life.

Recognizing Signs and Symptoms

Physical dependency, on the other hand, is characterized by the body’s adaptation to the presence of a substance. When the substance is abruptly discontinued or reduced, individuals may experience withdrawal symptoms. Physical addiction involves physiological changes, such as tolerance (needing higher doses to achieve the same effect) and withdrawal (unpleasant symptoms when the substance is stopped). Addiction refers to a complex and chronic condition characterized by the compulsive engagement in a particular behavior or the use of a substance, despite negative consequences. It’s important to note that treatment approaches may vary depending on the specific substance or behavior involved in the addiction.

By delving deeper into these two types of addiction, we can gain a clearer understanding of their specific characteristics, differences, and appropriate treatment approaches. All addiction types, including behavioral addictions, can be effectively treated at drug and alcohol rehab centers using detoxification and counseling. Many addiction treatment centers are devoted to helping individuals overcome addiction as a whole both physically and psychologically using these therapies. 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 don’t take the drug. However, certain substances have a higher risk of physical dependence than others.

Psychological addiction occurs when drug abuse and harmful behaviors are prioritized above important obligations, and become central to an individual’s emotions, thoughts, and daily activities. Tolerance can eventually lead to physical dependence, also known as physical addiction. Those who suffer from physical addiction will experience withdrawal symptoms that range from mild to severe when reducing drug use or quitting cold turkey. Withdrawal symptoms occur when cells in the body and brain are forced to readjust and regain normal function after growing accustomed to drugs and alcohol. Psychological addiction, also known as psychological dependency, refers to a form of addiction that primarily involves the emotional and mental aspects of a person’s behavior and thought patterns. Unlike physical addiction, which is characterized by the body’s physical dependence on a substance, psychological addiction is driven by the brain’s craving for the rewarding effects of a behavior or substance.


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