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What Does Psychological Addiction Involve?

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August 10, 2021

When discussing addiction, most of the time, people refer to physical addiction that occurs to a substance. However, psychological addiction is just as real. Even though it may not lead to life-threatening physical symptoms, psychological addiction can be just as uncomfortable as physical addiction.

What Is Psychological Addiction?

One way to understand psychological addiction is to compare it to physical addiction. Addiction to certain substances involves a cycle of using a substance, having withdrawal symptoms after stopping, and using the substance again. When people take certain substances, it can trigger chemicals in the brain that provide feelings of pleasure. This activates the reward center of the brain, leading the person to use that substance again. Consequently, when they try to quit, they’ll experience physical symptoms.person struggling with psychological addiction in therapy session

There isn’t a physical reaction with a psychological addiction but rather it is an emotional one. A person becomes psychologically attached to the substance as if it is a familiar “friend.” Psychological addiction is the emotional component of a drug addiction, which means people can be psychologically and physically addicted to any substance.

Differences Between Addiction and Dependence

Some people use the terms tolerance, addiction, and dependence interchangeably. Even some therapists may do this. However, there are distinct differences between the three.

According to NIDA, tolerance is when a person’s body gets used to a drug and they need more to achieve the same effects. This happens naturally as they continue using the drug.

Dependence occurs when someone has passed the tolerance point; they are using more of the drug and if they were to stop taking the substance, they would experience withdrawal. Withdrawal could range from mild to severe depending on the duration and intensity of their substance use. Even though the person would experience withdrawal symptoms, they would not necessarily be addicted.

An addicted person demonstrates drug-seeking behavior accompanied by a failure to keep up with life’s obligations, and in many instances, physical withdrawal symptoms in between drug use. The person might try to stop but fails to do so because they have progressed past the point of dependence.

Psychological addiction does not involve any physical withdrawal symptoms, but the person still has the compulsion to seek out the drugs and experiences emotional pain when they go without them.

Examples of Psychological Addiction

People experience psychological addiction differently, but some of the symptoms are as follows:

  • You feel like you need the drug to function in life.
  • You worry that you won’t be able to do certain things without the drug (like sleep or cope with emotional situations).Person with psychological addiction finding recovery and raising hands to the sky
  • You’ve felt a strong emotional connection to the drug develop.
  • Your mind is consumed by thinking about the substance.
  • You don’t feel much interest in things you used to do unless you have the drug.
  • You feel anxious if you think about stopping using the drug.

Help for Psychological Addiction

Getting help for psychological addiction is just a phone call away. At American Addiction Centers, our evidence-based therapy program helps people get to the source of addiction, so they can live happily and soberly. Reach out to us today.

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