Physiological dependence can happen with the chronic use of most drugs—including many types of prescription drugs, even when they are taken as instructed by a physician. Thus, physical dependence does not necessarily constitute addiction. This distinction can be difficult to discern, especially regarding prescribed pain medications, for which needing increasing dosages can represent tolerance. This may worsen the underlying problem instead of solving it.
You’re struggling with a substance abuse problem and need the help of a substance abuse treatment program. You’ve tried to cut back or quit outright. Suddenly, you’re dealing with withdrawal symptoms, which are signs of physical addiction. What is physiological dependence, and how do you overcome it?
Do you need help understanding the idea of physiological dependence vs psychological dependence? Call us today at 866.262.0531 for more information.
What Is Physiological Dependence?
Your body tells you that it needs the drug to survive. While you know that it doesn’t, your body insists that it must have the substance to live. What has happened is that your body adapted to the influx of the drug’s chemicals.
Your brain chemistry changed. The release of certain neurotransmitters may now depend on the presence of the drug. Your nervous system wakes up from artificial suppression without other types of substances. Until you give in, your body reminds you with painful and intrusive withdrawal symptoms that you need another fix.
Examples of withdrawal symptoms include hand tremors and gastrointestinal issues. You might also encounter psychological effects. They can consist of depression and anxiety. Your options now involve continuing to use or choosing addiction treatment programs.
Your body has become dependent on the drug. You may not be able to feel normal without it. If you try to quit, you will experience withdrawal symptoms. These can be physical and mental. They can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. That is why it is important to get help from a medical professional when quitting. Withdrawal symptoms can vary depending on the drug. They can last for days or weeks.
All Detox Isn’t the Same
Some drugs, like alcohol and benzodiazepines, can cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. These should always be detoxed under medical supervision. Other drugs, like opioids, may not be as dangerous but can still be difficult to quit on your own. If you are struggling to quit, reach out for help. There are many addiction treatment programs available.
Physiological dependence is when your body becomes used to a substance and has trouble functioning without it. Withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and even dangerous. If you’re struggling to quit, reach out for help from a medical professional or an addiction treatment program.
Detoxification Overcomes Withdrawal Symptoms
What is physiological dependence if not a warning that you need to quit using? For many, the withdrawal symptoms are the wake-up call they need to make changes. Depending on the drug that you’re using, you might be able to break this part of the addiction quickly. For most, it takes a couple of days or a week to ten days.
Medical supervision during the process keeps you healthy and comfortable. Pharmacological support allows for a pain-free experience. Ending this part of the addiction is vital for continuing to tackle psychological dependence.
For a small of number of people, the detoxification process is all they need to quit using. The withdrawal symptoms were enough of a deterrent. However, for most people, there is still much work to be done in rehab.
Once you beat your physiological dependence, you’ll continue with treatment. In addition to your body adapting to the chemicals, your psyche has done so, too. You need to work on overcoming the psychological aspect of the condition next.
Doing so is possible with rehab. Unlike detox, which usually relies on an inpatient structure, rehab gives you options. You work with an intake counselor to find the one that works best for you. Examples include:
- Partial hospitalization, which provides full-time therapy but encourages you to return home at night
- Intensive outpatient treatment as an opportunity to undergo rehab and keep on top of your work or family obligations, too
- Outpatient care is a means of scheduling part-time rehab and benefits participants with moderate addictions
- Aftercare, which provides you with a post-discharge plan of care for lifelong sobriety
Addiction is also known as compulsive drug use despite harmful consequences. It is characterized by the inability to stop using a certain drug to the detriment of work, social, or family obligations. Addiction involves both tolerance and withdrawal. The latter reflect physical dependence during which the body adapts to the drug of choice, requiring more and more of it to achieve a certain effect. It also elicits drug-specific physical or psychological symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased. This is known as withdrawal.
Getting the Help You Need Today
It’s not too late to quit using. No matter whether you’re dealing with a moderate or strong addiction, there’s hope. Work with a set of addiction treatment experts who can help you with your substance use disorder.
What is physiological dependence? It’s a warning sign that you need to make changes. At Crestview Recovery, caring therapists want to help. Call 866.262.0531 today to schedule an appointment.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.