When people talk about the negative impacts of substance abuse, much of the discussion centers on addiction and physical dependence problems. But psychological dependence is another major factor involved in excessive drinking or drug use. Though physical and psychological dependence are interrelated, they are not the same thing.
Abuse of drugs or alcohol leads to changes in brain chemistry, which is part of the reason why risky behavior and poor judgment are part of the pathology of drug use. You start to develop cravings for the “good feelings” that the drugs or alcohol provide and let those cravings drive your choices, even if it leads to negative consequences.
Breaking the psychological dependence is a key part of what happens in a drug treatment program and could well be the biggest challenge. To learn more about how to stop psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol, contact the experts at Amatus Recovery Centers today.
What Is Psychological Dependence?
There’s no objective way of judging whether someone needs a substance abuse treatment program. Rather than a specific number of drinks or quantity of drugs, diagnoses are based on what a substance does to your quality of life.
According to the World Health Organization, psychological dependence begins when someone loses their ability to moderate their use of alcohol or drugs and starts orienting their lives around their next use. Nothing else matters other than the drugs or alcohol, not even family members or work obligations. The craving becomes the obsession.
Quite literally, the substance becomes central to how the person lives his or her life, no matter what kind of trouble it creates.
To put it more succinctly, the WHO says that psychological dependence starts when someone starts to exhibit “impaired control over drinking or drug use.” With the onset of psychological dependence, it may be time to consider treatment options.
Symptoms of Dependence
Craving drugs or alcohol is the primary psychological sign of dependence. But the line between psychological and physical dependence is thin. In fact, the more you crave, the more you use, and the greater the likelihood of experiencing physical symptoms.
Dependence manifests itself in a variety of ways. If you or a loved one exhibits one or more of these symptoms, it may mean it’s time to get professional help from Amatus Recovery Centers.
The symptoms of physical dependence include but aren’t limited to:
- Clammy skin
- Disrupted sleep
Addiction vs. Dependence
Keep in mind that there is a difference between “addiction” and “dependence.” Commonly, you will see them used interchangeably in media and other sources. The two terms are related, but they are not the same.
Addiction is the inability to stop drinking or using a drug, even in the face of the significant problems it causes with school, work, relationships, health, or the law. But you can have a physical or psychological dependence without becoming addicted.
Medical science has identified drugs that fit this definition. For instance, corticosteroids, which doctors use to control inflammation, can cause changes in your body. These changes result in physical withdrawal symptoms when you stop using them.
Certain antidepressants such as Paxil can trigger dizziness or other physical symptoms if stopped too abruptly but do not rise to the level of a substance use disorder.
Break the Cycle of Psychological Dependence at Amatus Recovery Centers
We address psychological dependence, physical dependence, and addiction with treatment programs provided by Amatus Recovery Centers. Treatment begins with a thorough evaluation and can include detox, counseling, and aftercare. We provide clinically appropriate support in a range of environments and support you well past the end of counseling. Working closely with us, we can direct to a stable position of sobriety. Contact us at 833.631.0525 today for a confidential consultation.