What is Psychological Dependence on Substances?

Psychological dependence and physical dependence are two distinct parts of addiction. Psychological dependence is mostly the emotional part of addiction, such as cravings. Whereas physical dependence is when your body adapts to the drug, causing withdrawal symptoms.

Substance dependence is an increasing problem in society today, and this is partially because of the emotional, behavioral, and social influences that impact it at once. This is why “psychological dependence” and “physical dependence” are both important to know when considering addiction. In this blog, we will look at the definitions, differences, and how these two things impact addiction. 

If you or a loved one could benefit from 12 Steps to Recovery, contact Myrtle Beach Recovery to learn about our comfortable residential setting.

Defining Psychological Dependence

Psychological dependence is a complex mix of emotions that interplay between the individual, and the substance effects. This is more than just being physically addicted; it’s about the emotional drive and compulsions that can hound an addict for years. Many things impact psychological dependence, including genetics, environment, and life experiences. These can combine to be much more powerful than the substance itself, leading to further addictions or self-destructive behavior even when the addiction is overcome. 

Defining Physical Dependence

However, physical dependence is when the body reacts to long-term exposure to a drug by adapting chemical and physical processes. When you take away a substance from someone physically dependent, they will experience a host of uncomfortable and even life-threatening symptoms. 

Psychological Dependence vs. Physical Dependence

Understanding psychological dependence vs. physical dependence is crucial to aiding someone in recovery. Simply treating one side of the coin will land someone back in their addiction and further hurt. Different support strategies for both of these sides of addiction can help you or your loved one through the storm. One of these is Myrtle Beach Recovery, in South Carolina, a residential environment that aims to support anyone in need. 

Because these two sides coexist, the yearning and mental anguish that addicts feel can be heavily impacted by the need to stop how physically unwell they have become. This is an almost impossible challenge to take on alone. Recognizing this and reaching out for help is the first step toward overcoming psychological and physical dependence. An addict can do this through therapeutic interventions such as, counseling, support groups, and doctors. 

Some Key Features of Psychological Dependence

  • Emotional Cravings: Psychological dependence involves strong emotional cravings for a substance driven by the desire for solace, pleasure, or relief.
  • Psychological Distress: Individuals experiencing psychological dependence often face emotional distress and turmoil when deprived of the substance.
  • Compulsive Behaviors: The attachment to the substance can lead to compulsive behaviors, where the individual feels compelled to use the substance repeatedly.
  • Anxiety: Psychological dependence can be accompanied by anxiety, as the fear of not having access to the substance triggers emotional unease.

Some Key Features of Physical Dependence

  • Tremors: Physical dependence may lead to involuntary tremors or shaking as the body reacts to the absence of the substance.
  • Nausea: Nausea is a common symptom of physical dependence withdrawal, often accompanied by a feeling of sickness and discomfort.
  • Insomnia: Individuals with physical dependence may experience sleep disturbances, including insomnia when attempting to discontinue the substance.
  • Cravings and Urges: Physical dependence can create intense cravings and urges for the substance as the body seeks relief from discomfort.
  • Sweating and Chills: Physical withdrawal symptoms can manifest as sweating and chills, reflecting the body’s struggle to regulate temperature without the substance.

What is Psychological Dependence on Substances?

Psychological and physical dependence on substances is a complicated interplay of symptoms and cravings. Recognizing how these might impact your recovery is important for setting yourself up for success. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, let Myrtle Beach Recovery help you with our 12-step immersion program. Our experienced staff will help you work through the steps to help you regain control of your life. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can help you on your journey to sobriety.