A lot of people who are learning about addiction ask: what is psychological dependence? This is because a lot of literature focuses more on physical dependence. Although physical dependence is one reason why people continue to use drugs, it’s not the only one.
What Is Psychological Dependence?
A psychological dependence is an emotional, compulsive need to drink alcohol or take drugs despite the risks. Due to this, a substance may become the only thing that people with addiction think about. This state is a serious, neurobiological disease that can develop without physical dependence.
People who have an addiction, for example, might think that they need the substance to sleep. However, they’re able to sleep without it and won’t go into withdrawal if they don’t get it. In another example, someone might stop crystal meth abuse with no physical withdrawal symptoms. They may continue to crave and think about the drug, but in this instance, are only suffering from psychological dependence.
The Most Addictive Drugs
Cocaine, heroin and nicotine are the most addictive drugs because of their psychoactive chemicals. Crystal meth is a stimulant like cocaine, and prescription pain meds are opiates like heroin. This makes these drugs highly addictive as well.
Those who are most at risk of developing psychological dependence also have a low tolerance for pain. They usually have a history of substance use as well.
How Addiction Affects the Brain
All of these drugs directly or indirectly affect the nervous system in the brain. They do this by promoting the release of dopamine to up to 10 times the normal level. This neurotransmitter controls emotion, feelings of pleasure, movement and motivation.
When the brain releases too much dopamine, it creates a euphoric state. As the drugs wear off, the dopamine levels fall. Artificially raising dopamine can desensitize the receptors that produce it after just one time of use. The reduction in dopamine levels ends the euphoric state and can lead to depression.
When this happens to users, they might start feeling empty. After a while, they become agitated, anxious and restless because all they can think about is reaching that high again. Once they take their drug of choice, they feel relaxed and secure. Although they may never feel that first euphoric state again, they’ll keep seeking out the drugs to relax.
Psychological Dependence Treatment
Treatment for psychological dependence typically happens after users complete detox to address physical dependence. Detox doesn’t deal with the emotional attachment that people have to their drug of choice. Instead, they must go through classes and therapy to learn how to cope with stress. They must also have a plan to prevent relapse and live a sober life.
Having a support system outside of detox and rehab is also essential to manage psychological dependence. People who are recovering from addiction can lean on their loved ones and members of support groups for encouragement and strength. Now that you know the answer to, “What is psychological dependence?”, you can learn more about how to treat it.
Therapy at The Hills Treatment Center
If you believe that you or a loved one has psychological dependence, consider recovery in the luxury of The Hills Treatment Center. Our secluded facility is confidential and allows you to bring your pet. We offer a full range of services for detox and rehab therapy. Our residential, outpatient and partial hospitalization treatments include:
- Education support
- Group counseling
- Individual therapy
- Medication support
Don’t let psychological dependence control your thoughts any longer. Overcome this addiction by getting quality help in rehab. Call 866-323-4665 today to learn how we can get you started.