Also, once dependence has formed, many people will experience urges or cravings to use, and symptoms of withdrawal when they cut back or stop using. Withdrawal symptoms are the adverse side effects felt when use of the substance stops suddenly (flu-like symptoms and muscle pain in opioid users, for instance). The difference between physical and psychological dependence lies in how your dependence makes you feel. Physical addiction occurs with the most widely abused substances like heroin, meth, and alcohol. You know you suffer physical addiction when you experience negative physical side effects as part of your drug use or withdrawal.

Not unlike addiction, physiological dependency changes your brain chemistry. Tolerance does build up over time, which changes how the brain reacts to the presence of the drug. It may release fewer neurotransmitters, hormones, or chemicals until it detects the drug in your system. Although someone who’s dependent on drugs and alcohol might not have an addiction, it’s more likely to turn into addiction through long usage.

A Look Psychological Dependence and Its Symptoms

Understanding those differences can help determine the best course of treatment. You can also experience both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. Dependence refers to the process by which your mind and body come to depend on a substance so you keep feeling a certain way. This tends to result in withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the substance. Laura comes to NJRC with 23 years of vast clinical experience in hospital, residential, psychological dependence vs physiological dependence outpatient, and community outreach settings where she has worked, supervised clinical teams, and volunteered. But in a quality detox and rehab treatment program, you receive the help you need to free yourself from your dependencies. One of the biggest effects of drugs and alcohol on the brain is alterations in the way your brain responds and controls pleasurable feelings. With most drugs and with alcohol, dopamine levels in the brain are changed.
psychological dependence vs physiological dependence
Once the substances are out of the body, and the body begins to heal, the person may continue to suffer from the psychological consequences. Finding the right treatment facility and support system can make enduring the symptoms of withdrawal more manageable. For some, these first steps are the hardest parts of the recovery journey and require a full team of support while the brain and body heal. Taking larger doses of a drug or substance is an effect of psychological dependence, not physical dependence. Once your brain is used to the effects of the substance of choice, it requires the person to take larger and larger doses to get the same initial effect. As your body gets used to whichever substances you’re taking, you’ll need more and more drugs to achieve the same effect. This then begins to have a greater impact on your body chemistry and brain function. If, after this, you try to quit drugs, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms, and should seek help from an experienced rehab center to get you through detoxification safely. 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.

Symptoms of Physical Addiction

Some individuals grappling with a psychological addiction might even have thoughts of harming themselves when they don’t have drugs or alcohol. A full-service rehabilitation center has programs that will help patients overcome the psychological symptoms of withdrawal. While detox is comprehensive, it focuses more on physical dependence. Although, it may last longer depending upon the severity Sober Home of the addiction. Patients in a detox program will be under medical supervision 24/7. Medical supervision allows patients to withdraw in a safe setting. A psychological dependence affects the mind negatively in terms of mood, feelings, and thoughts. They’re arguably more difficult to pin down and treat because of this. A doctor can tell when a person has tremors or is sweating excessively.

  • Understanding those differences can help determine the best course of treatment.
  • However, they can be very upsetting, and may even lead you back down the road to relapse.
  • You need to buy more and more drugs, leaving you with less and less money for life’s essentials.
  • It is important to understand that physical and psychological dependence are intertwined and both play a significant role in maintaining addictive behaviors.

Although physical and psychological addictions have characteristics that set them apart from each other, they do have a symbiotic relationship. Together, the two create a very debilitating and vicious addiction cycle that is notoriously difficult to break without professional help. Cravings are a key factor in psychological addictions, so it’s important for you to understand what they are. A craving is an intense desire for something and is one of the hallmarks of psychological dependence. Paul may very well have a physical dependence on his painkillers, leading him to take more than prescribed. It’s somewhat common for the human body to develop a physical tolerance to painkilling medicine. This means the user needs more of the drug in order to attain the desired effect. We exercise progressive, leading brain science in our treatment approach for patients in our community and across the country who are struggling with mental health and addiction challenges. Constipation and diarrhea are two of the most common gastrointestinal problems people with a physical addiction experience.

Not only does physical dependence make it difficult for the body to self-regulate, but psychological dependence affects a person’s judgment, decision-making, mental health, and emotional health. For example, someone who is psychologically dependent on drugs or alcohol might continue drinking even after multiple DUIs or legal consequences. Furthermore, people with psychological dependence will experience strong and recurring urges to use drugs, even when they want to stop. The key difference between physical and psychological addiction is how the substance affects the person using it.
psychological dependence vs physiological dependence
The specific mechanism involves a neuronal counter-adaption, which could be mediated through changes in neurotransmittor activity or altered receptor expression. Environmental enrichment and physical activity can attenuate withdrawal symptoms. Psychological dependence is not to be confused with physical dependence, which induces physical withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation of use. The criteria for substance abuse focused more on the legal, social, and occupational consequences of substance use. Addiction is a chronic condition characterized by compulsive behavior that people continue to engage in despite harmful consequences.

Many symptoms are less problematic than seizures, such as watery eyes, or sweating. These physical symptoms help define the line between physical vs psychological dependence. However, even if these aren’t as problematic, they are clear indicators that an addiction has developed. Over time these symptoms may worsen and other more severe ones might take their place. When someone uses narcotics to cope with life’s problems, it is a symptom of psychological dependence rather than physical dependence. When someone is using narcotics to deal with life’s general ups and downs there is a dependency on that drug. This proves to be an unhealthy relationship between the substance and the person. When being asked, the difference between physical dependence versus psychological dependence, trembling might come up as a symptom of physical dependence. Many drugs of abuse are described as producing both physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation and fostering both forms of dependence. This evidence suggests that the physical versus psychological addiction comparison could result from changes in brain chemistry from addictive behaviors rather than solely a result of substance use.

Symptoms might also fluctuate, improving for a period of time and intensifying when you’re under a lot of stress. However, it’s important to note there are still wide variations in the way doctors use these terms. All research on the North Jersey Recovery Center website, including images, texts and graphics, is strictly for informational purposes. Please do not ignore information from your doctor because of something you saw on the North Jersey Recovery Center website. If you have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. If this is a medical emergency or you are feeling suicidal, call 911. needs to review the security of your connection before proceeding. All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

But, a physical dependence can be thought of as the signs and symptoms a person displays that are tangible. Someone with a physical dependence on drugs and alcohol might show symptoms that others can notice. Almost anything can cause psychological addiction, whether you abuse drugs or alcohol, or pursue a particular activity. Really, anything bringing you pleasure can cause urges within you to recreate those feelings of pleasure. If you repeat the activity to recreate these feelings time and again, you risk developing an unhealthy attachment as psychological dependence. In the question of whether you suffer physical vs psychological dependence, you also must consider you possibly suffer both.

The information provided by Recovered on this website is not a substitute for professional treatment advice. Specific trauma, stressors, people, locations, and events can be triggers. However, you can still choose to not take the substance while dealing with these triggers — with addiction, it’s almost impossible to not take the substance when in these situations. The instrument we use is The Behavior and Symptoms Identification Scale (BASIS-24®). Even less problematic discomforts, such as sweating and teary eyes, are both attributes of physical addictive dependence versus psychological addictive dependence.