- Mar 20
Addiction is a disease that impacts every area of your life. If you’re ready to get help, you’ll need to understand that not all addictions are the same. Some people seem to have more of a physical dependence, where you experience the symptoms of your addiction in your body. Others seem more affected mentally, as you develop a deeply rooted craving for a certain substance that changes your psychological behaviors.
However, most addictions have far more reaching consequences, affecting individuals on both a mental and physical level. Identifying whether you have a physical or psychological dependence on drugs and alcohol can help you find the best course of treatment.
Types of Addiction
The only real way to look at addiction is as both a psychological addiction and a physical dependence. These components are inextricably linked to the chemical changes that occur in the brain. In fact, both physical and psychological addiction activate similar regions of the brain.
However, there are distinct differences between physical and psychological addiction.
What Is Physical Dependence?
What is addiction vs. dependence? The definition of physical dependence refers almost exclusively to the physical ramifications of addiction characterized by the symptoms of tolerance and withdrawal.
Long-term drug or alcohol use leads to a state of physical dependence, where your body’s cells can’t seem to function normally without that substance. However, over time, a physical state of tolerance means your body needs more drugs or alcohol to feel their effects.
Just like tolerance builds as your body adapts to chronic drug or alcohol use, withdrawal happens when you try to quit that substance. Painful withdrawal symptoms include chills, body aches, tremors, nausea and diarrhea. Because quitting drugs and alcohol cold turkey is so difficult, many choose to ease their pain by continuing to use the substances.
What Is Psychological Addiction?
Psychological addiction is also known as an emotional or mental dependence on drugs or alcohol. When someone struggles with the psychological ramifications of addiction, they feel a compulsion or overwhelming need to use.
It is possible to have a deep psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol without ever experiencing the physical side effects of withdrawal.
Those with severe psychological addiction become consumed with their drug of choice. These substances become the central focus of their life, to the detriment of relationships, jobs and overall health.
Treatment for Both Physical and Psychological Addiction at Gateway
When it comes to treating addiction, you need to find an addiction treatment program that addresses both the physical and psychological components of this disease. At Gateway, we offer evidence-based treatment that we tailor to your exact needs, depending on the severity of your addiction.
We will help manage the physical effects of addiction through medically supervised detoxification. As we help you wean off drugs or alcohol, we address painful withdrawal symptoms and ensure your safety throughout this challenging process.
Once you are free from the physical component of this disease, we target the physicological side effects of addiction. Many underlying issues contribute to addiction. During your personalized therapy sessions, we help you develop coping techniques, so you are empowered to live a sober life. Even after your time with us is over, our alumni services ensure you stay on the road to recovery.
Whether you struggle with physical or psychological addiction or both, we help you learn the tools you need to overcome at Gateway. Contact us today to find out more.