For someone who doesn’t suffer from an addiction, it’s easy to think, “Anyone can quit with the right willpower.” The reality is that it’s not that simple. Physical and psychological dependence make it nearly impossible to quit without help. Sure, ending physical dependence is possible with an intensive detoxification process. However, the main reason people struggle with sobriety is due to psychological dependence. Being unable to see how drug use is connected to personal misfortune is one example of psychological dependence.
Understanding Psychological Dependence and the Brain
First, you need to understand how your brain works to give you some clarity about the situation. The problem is that addiction affects the part of the brain responsible for self-awareness. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) classifies addiction as a mental disorder. This is because of the way addiction affects the brain. FMRI scans show that a physical change takes place in the brain of those with addictions. The main reason behind a psychological addiction is that the prefrontal cortex isn’t functioning properly. This is an enormous problem since it’s responsible for the following:
- Regulating the pleasure system
- Impulse control
- Emotional regulation
- Fear modulation
A common issue people who suffer from addiction run into is the inability to be self-aware. This causes more problems than anything else because it puts people in a state of denial. It makes these individuals believe that they can quit whenever they want to, even though they can’t. Many people try to control their drinking or drug use, but the psychological dependence is too great.
How Psychological Dependence Works
While we need to experience pleasure in order to survive, this primal skill can be a downfall. For example, when we’re hungry, we find food. It satisfies us by giving us pleasure and keeping us alive, and we store the memory. As a result, we know to do that action again, and scientists refer to this as “the habit loop.” The more a person repeats this action, the stronger the habit becomes. In the case of drugs and alcohol, it can turn into an addiction. Programs at Crestview Recovery that have been shown to help with psychological dependence include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dual diagnosis treatment
- Group therapy
The key to recovery from active addiction is being honest, open-minded, and willing. With these three essential attributes, your brain can begin to heal and end the dependency on drugs or alcohol.
Breaking Psychological Dependence Through Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment programs help you overcome mental dependency by helping your brain begin to heal. Different methods, like cognitive-behavioral therapy, help you replace old behaviors with new, healthier ones. The dependence comes from the habit loop, which creates very intense cravings. The more you react to situations in a new, healthy way, the more the old habit loop begins to break.
Different medications help subdue cravings, but they don’t get to the root of the problem. Holistic therapy is where true recovery from this mental dependency can begin. Methods like mindfulness meditation, yoga, and exercise help break the loop. These treatments help you begin to learn how to deal with these emotions, thoughts, and cravings in a healthy way.
People believe mindfulness meditation is the absence of thought, but this is a common misconception. Being mindful is simply noting and acknowledging the thoughts that arise. As you continue to practice this, you begin to see that these thoughts are just sensations of the mind. As with any sensation, you’ll see that they aren’t permanent, and they’ll eventually pass.
Building Healthy Relationships
When you start to recover from addiction, you may discover that some of your past relationships were toxic and unhealthy.
Examine each relationship – sometimes it’s not just connections with drug dealers or drinking buddies that get you into trouble. Those who are very close to you can contribute to an unintended relapse. For example, you may have a co-dependent relationship with a family member or an employer that has been enabling you. If you maintain these relationships, your chances of relapsing become higher. Aside from balance, synergy, and showing appreciation, the following are examples of healthy relationship dynamics:
- Both people are healing and growing
- Both people confront issues rather than trying to escape
- Both people can manage responsibilities
It’s essential to develop healthy relationships and maintain a supportive network of family and friends. If you’re finding it difficult to make new and sober friends, try going to support group meetings.
Join Us at Crestview
Crestview Recovery can help you overcome your dependence on alcohol or drugs. One day at a time, your mind will begin to heal as you go through different forms of therapy. You’ll also gain a new passion for living life through experiential therapies. Give us a call today at 866.262.0531 to find out more about our addiction treatment programs.