Without detox in a supervised environment, there are serious risks, including death. It all depends on how long a person has used a substance, how many they are using, and what they are detoxing from.

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.


Remember that addiction is treatable, and the more you understand the disease, the more you may be able to support a loved one as they go through treatment. People who have a physical dependence on a substance, such as drugs or alcohol, will experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using the substance or reduce the amount of substance used.

What is a common indication of substance abuse?

Symptoms may include: Using or drinking larger amounts or over longer periods of time than planned. Continually wanting or unsuccessfully trying to cut down or control use of drugs or alcohol. Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from use of drugs or alcohol.

In the question of whether you suffer physical vs psychological dependence, you also must consider you possibly suffer both. Others form based on physical changes you experience in drug use. Which you suffer helps addiction treatment professionals identify the type of treatment you need. In some cases, the risk factors for development of psychological dependence are related to the specific substance or behavior that one becomes dependent on. However, research looking at addiction has found some general factors that might lead to a higher risk for dependence and addiction. You may have some underlying issues that prompted you to first use drugs or alcohol. It can help you address and manage recovery as you discover different ways to handle challenging emotions, stress, or social events that may act as a trigger to begin using drugs or alcohol.

Overcoming the Physiological Dependence

Although it can be managed and treated, like other chronic health conditions, at this time there is no “cure” for addiction. The psychological side of addiction represents the compulsion https://ecosoberhouse.com/ of the mind to drink or use based on a perceived need the substance fills. This facet of addiction can occur even if the person doesn’t display physical dependency symptoms.

  • They report happiness, joy, and a desire to continue the activity.
  • Not only is this one of the leading reasons for relapse, but it can also put your life at risk.
  • Recovery is achieved through psychotherapy, counseling, and substituting the addictive behaviors for healthy alternatives.
  • During physical dependence, your body becomes dependent on a substance to function.
  • Thus, the proper question is not ‘whether a person is dependent on alcohol’, but ‘how far along the path of dependence has a person progressed’.

With continued abuse, opioids start depleting your brain’s natural supply of dopamine. If you stop using opioids, your central nervous system goes into overtime, trying to rebalance itself without the help of drugs and you begin to experience physical withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, muscle aches, and rapid heart rate. Long-term drug or alcohol abuse leads to changes in the brain’s structure and function. 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. Alcohol dependence is thought to represent a persistent dysfunctional (i.e., allostatic) state in which the organism is ill-equipped to exert appropriate behavioral control over alcohol drinking.


When analyzing whether or not legal issues caused by substance abuse is a psychological dependency versus a physical dependency, evidence suggests it is a symptom of psychological dependency. They need to do something illegal to get physiological dependence on alcohol the substance of choice is a psychological dependence of that substance. When being asked, the difference between physical dependence versus psychological dependence, trembling might come up as a symptom of physical dependence.

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. During this first step, the objective is to remove the substance from your system completely. 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. Consequently, people suffering from psychological dependence will spend excess time obtaining drugs, using the drugs, and recovering from the side effects of the drugs. These individuals might neglect their responsibilities at work, home, or school in order to keep up their substance abuse. The psychological aspects of addiction are sometimes so tortuous that they are the hardest symptoms to overcome.

Treatment for Substance Use Disorders

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. Psychological dependence just refers to the way that some people come to emotionally or mentally rely on a substance. Talking about substance use disorder can be tricky, and not just because it’s a sensitive topic. There are a lot of terms involved that, while related, mean different things. If you decide to skip the coffee one morning, you’ll probably have a pounding headache and feel generally crummy later in the day.

  • The first edition of the DSM was released in 1952 and has undergone several revisions and updates since.
  • Zhang Z, Morse AC, Koob GF, Schulteis G. Dose- and time-dependent expression of anxiety-like behavior in the elevated plus-maze during withdrawal from acute and repeated intermittent ethanol intoxication in rats.
  • Obsession is when someone is infatuated with the substance they are using.
  • The differences between the two can be hard to distinguish, but one does not mean the other.
  • Psychological dependence happens when the brain becomes dependent on a drug or activity to feel good, causing a person to crave more of the drug.
  • As a fierce proponent of mental health services, Jess believes in the compassionate care and person-centered approach at All Points North.

Although detox usually lasts less than a week, addiction treatment programs might last anywhere from 30 days to several months depending on the severity of a person’s symptoms. Before physical dependence forms, the afflicted individual begins building a tolerance on their substance of choice. Tolerance refers to the phenomenon that occurs when people abuse mood or mind-altering substances so often that their body adjusts to having the substance in the body.

Yes, there is a difference between physical dependence versus psychological dependence. Psychological dependence is the dependence on the drugs or the substance of choice. Relapse represents a major challenge to treatment efforts for people suffering from alcohol dependence.