Psychological dependence is the emotional and mental reliance on a substance. It generally appears as strong urges or cravings. Psychological dependence is nearly always present in people struggling with addiction. Weeding out a patient’s psychological dependence is core to addiction recovery.
Psychological Versus Physical Dependence
Where psychological dependence is related to emotional and mental reliance related to a substance, physical dependence is when your body relies on a drug to function normally. Let’s use coffee as an illustration of how psychological and physical dependence differ.
If you drink coffee daily, it’s likely your body will come to depend on it, potentially as part of your morning routine. One day, you wake up and forget to have your coffee. Chances are, you’ll suffer from a headache that day. Your body’s physical dependence on caffeine means without it, you experience withdrawal symptoms.
Now return to that morning you missed your coffee to see how psychological dependence might show up. Instead of a headache, this time, missing your coffee resulted in you not being able to think of anything else. The beans, the roasting, the smell, the sound of the coffee pouring into your favorite mug. They are all you can think about. Furthermore, missing your morning coffee feels like it has thrown off your whole routine and distracted you from getting your work done. This is a clear case of psychological dependence.
Symptoms of Psychological Dependence
The most common symptoms of psychological dependence include:
- Strong cravings
- Constant, pervasive thoughts about a substance and its use
- Lost interest in normal activities or hobbies
- A mindset that you require the substance to be normal or generally function
Extending from these symptoms is something called post-acute withdrawal syndrome. Typically, withdrawal symptoms are the result of your body’s physical dependence on a substance and its response to being deprived of the substance. In the earlier example with the coffee, this was the headaches after a no-coffee morning.
Post-acute withdrawal syndrome can sometimes appear during or after the experience of physical withdrawal symptoms. This syndrome is accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Cognitive issues
Treating Psychological Dependence
Treating psychological dependence is core to an addiction recovery program. With the way psychological dependence acts on a person’s mental state, treating it requires psychiatric care and attention that often extend well beyond a person’s time in an inpatient rehab program.
Addiction recovery related to psychological dependence will likely include talk therapy and attending a support group. Talk therapy is a classic form of psychiatric care where a licensed professional unearths and discusses the underlying issues leading to an addiction. Support groups help address dependence by providing a source of social interaction, accountability, and support.
This combination of therapy and support groups are resources patients can and should access for as long as they need to. Each person’s recovery will have a different timeline. In addition, these supports’ role in recovery can change over time as growing independence and freedom from addiction bring different sets of challenges.
Addiction Treatment at Georgia Addiction Treatment Center
Georgia Addiction Treatment Center is ready to support you in addiction recovery. One element that we emphasize at our addiction treatment center is holistic wellness. Our treatment programs aim to heal you physically, spiritually, and mentally. Our wellness services include:
- Yoga and exercise classes
- Nutrition education
- Grocery shopping and meal planning support
In addition, our programs are created to support you long after you leave our facility to ensure psychological and physical dependence do not create roadblocks to full addiction recovery. Our aftercare planning includes case management, access to a safe environment, and relapse prevention action planning.
You deserve healing and wholeness. We can help you get there. Contact us at 833.641.0661 to learn more about our addiction treatment programs.