Psychological dependence Wikipedia

Posted: April 25, 2022 by PK in Sober living

While the signs and symptoms are there, physical and psychological dependence occurs slowly and can be hard to detect until it’s too late. With help from Steps to Recovery’s addiction therapy programs, our team members can help you fight your dependency and take back the life that’s yours. Contact Steps to Recovery today if you or a loved one are in need of help. The difference between physical and psychological dependence lies in how your dependence makes you feel.

What is a physiological or psychological dependence on a substance or activity?

Addiction is a brain disorder involving compulsive substance use despite negative outcomes. It's a complex condition with both psychological and physical elements that are hard (if not impossible) to separate.

Together, they can create major problems for you and your loved ones. Becoming dependent on a drug usually means that addiction is right around the corner. Being dependent means that you’ll begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not being used. While physical dependence and psychological dependence are different in many ways, they are both critical factors for those who struggle with substance abuse disorder.

What is the Difference Between Physical Dependence and Psychological Dependence

A characteristic withdrawal syndrome occurs when the opioid is stopped abruptly or an opioid antagonist is given. In the case of morphine and other OP3 receptor agonists with a similar duration of action, lacrimation, rhinorrhea, yawning, and sweating occur about 8–12 hours after the last dose. Symptoms peak at about 24–48 hours after withdrawal, with restlessness, irritability, and insomnia, as well as severe sneezing, weakness, anxiety, and depression. Other symptoms include dilated pupils, anorexia, piloerection, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, pyrexia, hypertension, muscle cramps, dehydration, and weight loss [141]. Physical dependence alone, meaning the development of a withdrawal syndrome upon abrupt discontinuation of the drug, is not evidence of addiction. Addiction refers to the compulsive urge to use substances despite the consequences they cause and the inability to stop using them, even if a person attempts to do it.

psychological dependence vs physiological dependence

The goal of these treatments is to help patients identify harmful thoughts or behaviors and replace them with healthier coping mechanisms. These therapies may be held on an individual or group basis but should be individualized to meet each patient’s unique needs. 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. 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.

What Is Psychological Dependence?

Physical dependence can happen with the chronic use of many substances— including many prescription drugs, even if taken as instructed. Both the mind and body lash out without the “feel-good” chemicals drugs and alcohol provide. Addiction is a serious medical condition that won’t get better without treatment. There is a bit of an overlap when it comes to physical vs psychological dependence. Substance use disorders are difficult to understand for many people. The physical and mental aspects of any substance disorder are complicated and unique to the individual suffering.

Contact us today to start your journey towards a healthier, cleaner life. A mix of dehydration and malnutrition can be to blame for vomiting or an upset stomach. The physical symptoms of many drug addiction typically include some level of stomach pains or vomiting/nausea. Nausea and vomiting is specifically a physical issue which once again shows the difference between physical vs psychological dependence. The easiest way to understand physical dependence vs psychological dependence is that physical dependence affects the body while psychological dependence affects behavior.


It is also true that when you suddenly stop drinking alcohol, you’ll generally experience physical withdrawal symptoms, such as feeling ill, nauseous and shaky. For some people, psychological withdrawal is also a problem, and they begin to experience very strong alcohol cravings. Although the two are distinct, physical and psychological physiological dependence on alcohol dependence aren’t entirely separate. Regardless of the substance in question, the effects of substance abuse are best treated with professional care. Dependence isn’t necessarily an addiction because drugs can improve a person’s life. For instance, people with anxiety disorders may be prescribed Xanax by a doctor.

What is physiological dependence?

A condition in which a person takes a drug over time, and unpleasant physical symptoms occur if the drug is suddenly stopped or taken in smaller doses.

The minds behind the DSM find the term carries too much negative connotation and is ambiguous. The World Health Organization also wanted to replace the medical designation of “addiction” with the word “dependence” back in 1964 (which probably contributed to the confusion). The difference between addiction and dependence can be difficult to understand. Some organizations have different definitions, use the words interchangeably or even abandon both terms altogether. (Substance use disorder, or SUD, is a preferred term in the scientific community.) Because of this lack of consistency, some ground rules can help differentiate between the two terms.

Previously, abuse was a mild form of addiction, and dependence was a moderate or severe form of addiction. That terminology was problematic because in biology — the study of organisms — dependence refers to a physical adaptation to a substance. You can become physically addicted to anything from prescribed drugs to alcohol and heroin. The higher the dose you use, as well as the length of time you’ve been using, the more negative effects you’ll see and the worse your withdrawal symptoms, will become. Along with this comes the physical need for more and more of a drug to get the desired high.

  • Since dependence often leads to addiction, the latter is considered more dangerous.
  • The APA ditched both “substance abuse” and “substance dependence” in favor of “substance use disorder.” Substance use disorder is now the medical term for addiction.
  • If they stop using the substance, their body will go through withdrawal.
  • Another notable difference is that most stimulant users will go through psychological withdrawal, rather than a physical one when they cease to use drugs.
  • Depression is defined as constant feelings of sadness and loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.

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