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Can You Be Mentally Addicted to a Substance Without Physical Dependence?

Can You Be Mentally Addicted to a Substance Without Physical Dependence?

Both psychological and physical dependence can lead to addiction while acting together or independently

The different ways addictive substances affect the body mean there are different types of addictions. For example, some substances modify the normal way the body physically functions, but other drugs have more noticeable psychological effects that lead to mental addictions. Both conditions are dangerous, so learn about them both to begin overcoming addiction.

Psychological Addiction and Physical Dependence

When discussing addiction, the word “dependence” means someone requires a drug to feel like she can function. For example, drugs that affect the central nervous system interfere with the way the brain works, so the brain responds to accommodate the drug. Over time, the brain will completely rely upon the drug to complete a process it used to handle on its own. As a result, when an addicts cannot take a drug, then withdrawal symptoms appear, a telltale sign of physical dependence.

Physical dependence is common among prescription painkiller addictions. These opioids attach to certain brain receptors to block pain, so the brain eventually stops making its own pain-blocking chemicals. In other words, the brain recognizes that the opioid already blocks pain, so it simply relies upon the drug to feel good. This reaction makes opioid users need more and more of the drug over time. As a result, when such an addict stops taking drugs, the withdrawal symptoms can be physically painful. In fact, the fear of physical pain can be terrifying, which perpetuates drug use.

On the other hand, psychological dependence relies more on the feelings after using a particular drug. This compulsion can be compared to the way someone becomes addicted to a certain activity. Some addictions are process addictions, like gambling, because a mental addiction forms without any physical need. Similarly to physical dependence, mental addiction creates a need for someone to feel at ease. Receiving such a psychological high can release many chemicals that make gamblers feel more comfortable, but only for a while. Psychological addiction creates the same need for more stimuli over time.

The Effect of Addiction

Without developing a physical dependence, someone can develop a psychological addiction that can only be satisfied by drug use. On the other hand,

addiction comes into play when dependence of any kind causes problems that people ignore to continue the habit. Addicts prioritize their habits above everything else they considered valuable, including relationships.

However, the lack of physical dependence does give an advantage to recovery. Since withdrawal symptoms are not a big issue and medical attention might not be needed, patients can focus on recovery that heals underlying causes of addiction. Once the causes of addiction are detected, a good treatment plan, along with some personal effort, can stop addiction.

How to Overcome Addiction

You can get help to overcome addiction by calling to our toll-free helpline. Our admissions coordinators have information about treatment plans that include medically supervised detox, intervention services, transportation to and from rehab, family counseling, insurance for rehab and even more resources. One call might be all you need to gain the courage and determination to recover from addiction.

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