Understanding the Difference Between Physical and Psychological Addiction



The world of an addict is a terrifying and bewildering one. Your emotions may include confusion, anger, fear, and a complete lack of command. People with addiction may be feeling a wide range of emotions right now. To be sure, battling addiction can feel very isolating, especially if you’re also dealing with the psychological and physiological effects of drug abuse. In the dark world of substance abuse, it’s easy to confuse a physical dependency on drugs with a mental compulsion to use them.

Here, we’ll compare and contrast the two types of addiction in great detail, so you’ll know exactly what you’re up against and how to approach it successfully. While we’ll be breaking down the differences between physical and mental addiction, later on, it’s important to note that the two are not mutually exclusive. Keep an eye out for family and friends who are fighting addiction and see what you can do to help them recover.

What Is Addiction?

It is helpful to get a handle on what addiction entails before attempting to dissect it into its parts (physical and mental). Addiction is commonly defined as compulsive substance use despite adverse effects on one’s life.

To fully grasp the nature of addiction, one must be familiar with the distinctions between physical and mental addiction, as well as tolerance and dependence.

Physical Addiction

If you keep abusing a substance until your body becomes physically dependent on it, you have a physical addiction.

Physical dependence can develop on any substance, including legal ones like pills and illegal ones like heroin. Increased side effects and more severe withdrawal symptoms are directly proportional to increased dosage and more prolonged use.

When you put drugs in your body, your system will counteract their effects by making its own chemical reactions. Over time, however, your body will develop a tolerance to these substances and stop responding to them in the same way they did at first.

To achieve the same effects from a drug as you did when you first started using it, you will need to increase your dosage as your body builds tolerance. Many factors can affect how quickly and to what extent this physical addiction develops in a person, including:

  • How often you’re abusing it
  • The type of drug it is
  • How long you have been using it

You need help overcoming substance abuse because it can lead to permanent brain damage, heart failure, and even death if not addressed.

Ascribing Psychological Addiction

Now that you have a basic understanding of the signs and symptoms of physical dependence let’s move on to discussing the mental and emotional aspects of addiction. The term “psychological” refers to anything that has to do with the mind or emotions. Accordingly, when you talk about how one can develop a mental dependence on substances or the behaviors displayed by the addict as a result of the psychological addiction, you are referring to psychological addiction.

If you’re emotionally or mentally attached to a substance, you’re suffering from psychological addiction. In addition, you’ll have a powerful urge to find and use your drug of choice. Extreme sensitivity is required to handle the frustration of being denied something you want.

When someone with a psychological addiction tries to stop using their drug of choice, withdrawal symptoms can occur as the body attempts to restore its natural chemical balance.

Extreme withdrawal symptoms may include:

  • Illnesses and pains
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Constriction in the chest
  • Palpitations
  • Overactive adrenaline
  • Sweating \sTremor
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Irresistible distraction
  • Isolation from others
  • Depression

Cravings in Addiction

It is crucial that you comprehend the nature of cravings as they relate to psychological addictions. One of the characteristics of psychological dependence is an intense desire for the dependent substance or behavior.

Intense cravings are a normal part of any attempt to quit drugs or reduce drug use. These can be so debilitating that they prevent you from functioning normally in any area of your life, including work, school, or personal relationships.

Most cravings only last a short period of time. They can be very distressing, however, and may even put you back on the path to relapse.

Physical vs. Mental Addiction

There is less of a dividing line than you might think between physical and mental addiction. Given that people’s psychological and physiological responses to drugs vary depending on the substance in question, it’s challenging to categorize the various symptoms of addiction into two clear groups.

Realizing that the mind is in charge of psychological addiction and the body is in charge of physical addiction helps clarify the distinction between the two, even though the line between the two can be blurry. Consequently, to suggest that the two types of addiction—psychological and physiological—are completely distinct is misleading.

However, there are cases where only psychological signs of addiction are present. If you have a gambling addiction, for instance, you’ll only feel an overwhelming desire to gamble in your head.

The Relation Between Physical and Psychological Addiction

Despite their differences, physical and mental addictions are inextricably linked. Both substances and behaviors can lead to a vicious cycle of addiction that is extremely difficult to break without assistance.

Initiating drug use is inextricably linked to the specific settings and circumstances that produce the first rush of euphoria. Then, this contributes to the reinforcement of your future usage patterns.

Your body will develop a tolerance to whatever drugs you’re taking, meaning you’ll need to take more and more of them to feel the same effects. Your brain and the chemistry of the rest of your body will continue to feel the impacts. If you want to quit using drugs at this stage, you will go through withdrawal, and you will require the assistance of a medical facility to go through the process without putting your health in jeopardy.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *