How a Psychological Dependence Develops

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Many can attest that a psychological dependence to drugs or alcohol is far worse than physical dependence. In fact, most relapses are a result of psychological dependence. Detox helps with the physical aspect of addiction, which can take days or a few weeks to break. However, the mind takes more time to heal.

Understanding the Psychological Dependence

woman with head on arms has psychological dependenceMost living creatures survive due to reward-based learning, which is a concept that famed psychologist B.F. Skinner introduced. You may have heard of the “lizard brain,” which refers to our most primitive survival instincts. Reward-based learning is how humans and many other creatures have been able to survive for so long. The problem is that as we continue to seek certain rewards, a habit can become an addiction.

The habit loop includes:

  • Trigger
  • Behavior
  • Reward

An example of reward-based learning is hunger (trigger), leads to eating (behavior) and a sense of satisfaction (reward). This is a crucial part of our learning process because it helps us survive by meeting certain needs. Every time a person repeats a habit loop, the brain reinforces it even stronger. This is where the mental dependence to drugs or alcohol becomes a difficult issue to resolve.

Reasons for the Psychological Dependence

The human brain is extremely complex and is constantly trying to solve different problems. Someone may use alcohol or drugs in the beginning in social situations, but sometimes the brain comes up new ideas. We may feel an uncomfortable feeling or emotion, and the brain remembers that drugs or alcohol give a reward. When a person drinks or uses as a way of coping with feelings and situations, it reinforces the habit.

Overcoming the Mental Dependence

The only way to break this habit loop is through addiction treatment, and The Hills Center is here to help. Through our program, you’ll learn more about addiction and how substances are only a symptom of a bigger problem. Addiction often arises from the inability to properly deal with thoughts, emotions, and situations that lead to the first drink or drug. Through different types of therapies, we help you identify different triggers and offer you helpful suggestions.

Scientific research shows that there are different ways to begin retraining and repairing the brain to break unhealthy habit loops. For example, The Hills Center offers various therapies that focus on codependent behavior, anger management, stress reduction and more. When you begin to learn different, healthy behaviors to replace with your old ones, the healing process begins. No matter how strong your addiction has become, we have solutions that will help you regain control of your life.

Before coming to treatment, you or your loved ones can check out our Family Addiction Guide for helpful answers. The best way to find out about our program and how we can help is by calling us today at 844-915-0287.

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