Addiction is a complex disease. It requires a myriad of terms to properly describe and understand. Overall, addiction involves continuing the abuse of substances despite the negative consequences of doing so. To make things more difficult, there are both physical and psychological addiction conditions.
What is psychological addiction?
Psychological addiction is a mental dependency on the substances you abuse. Despite knowing drugs or alcohol cause you harm, in this type of addiction you continue using them and can’t use willpower to stop.
A psychological addiction means you suffer certain symptoms, including:
- Intense cravings for the substance you abuse
- Intense anxiety when trying to quit using
- Loss of appetite, sleeplessness, mood swings and reduced cognitive abilities
- Inability to cope with daily life without using the substance
- Denial of the problem mixed with an obsession to obtain the drugs or alcohol
- Restlessness and anxiety when not using, depression when trying to quit
Addiction cravings can be extremely intense. They’re also clear signs of psychological dependence. The more a person tries to quit using, the more intense the cravings. Cravings can even pop up years into sobriety.
What is physical addiction?
Physical addiction means having an increased tolerance for a substance, leading to physical symptoms if you reduce the substance or don’t use it at all. These physical signs of addiction are also called withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms include uncomfortable feelings, such as nausea, stomach cramps, body aches, headaches and tremors. The uncomfortable feelings accompany changes in body functioning, such as pulse rate, blood pressure, temperature and respiration. People going through withdrawal usually suffer from vomiting and diarrhea, among other uncomfortable symptoms.
Even though psychological and physical addiction come with two different sets of symptoms, they’re not completely separate conditions. The brain and body connect and rely on each other for functioning. In substance abuse, both psychological and physical addictions develop. Most people start with psychological dependence and, through continued use of their preferred substance, develop physical addiction.
Addiction vs. Dependence
Making things even more confusing are the terms addiction and dependence. These two words interchange. Doctors and other professionals prefer using dependence due to its greater “political correctness.” Addiction carries stigmas many doctors don’t want to place on patients.
Others clarify that addiction and dependence are two very different terms. This is the case for people experiencing opioid tolerance from taking the drug their doctor prescribes. Tolerance develops often without the individual ever seeking to use the drug recreationally. When they feel opioid withdrawal symptoms upon ending their use, it doesn’t necessarily mean they suffer addiction.
This is where you can see how close the ties of psychological addiction and wanting to feel good from drugs or alcohol are. People with addictions to substances use them for personal gain, not to treat a medical need. Seeking a high or to numb yourself from daily life challenges by drinking or taking drugs is the dangerous pathway to addiction.
Ending Your Addiction to Drugs or Alcohol
However your addiction occurs, it requires proper treatment. Only through treatment can you enjoy long-term recovery without relapse. For that chance of a healthier, more fulfilling life, Crestview Recovery offers quality addiction treatment programs.
Crestview Recovery is a place where adults of the Pacific Northwest gain the rehabilitative therapies, education and coping skills they need to begin life in a healthier way, free from addiction. You can benefit from one of Crestview’s programs, including: