While those who have substance use disorders (SUD) experiencing physical processes that affect their behavior, there is also a psychological component. That means that an addicted individual is mentally dependent on a substance. Psychological dependence describes an individual’s emotional and mental processes regarding SUD or drug addiction.
The Signs of Psychological Dependence
When you define the word psychological, it means someone’s mind or emotions. Therefore, when someone is psychologically dependent, that means they mentally depend on substances. Those who suffer from psychological dependence have a mental or emotional attachment to the substance or substances they are using.
Some believe psychological dependence is more dangerous than physical dependence because it leads to a toxic mental state and frequent use of a substance. Some also refer to this dependence as someone who is struggling with internal battles. Some of the signs and symptoms you can look for regarding this form of dependence include the following:
- Experiencing feelings of denial
- Experiencing intense cravings or restlessness
- Forming a mental obsession with getting the substance
- Loss of appetite
- Not being able to imagine how to cope without the substance
- Not using the substance leading to insomnia or anxiety
About the Formation of Psychological Dependence
We are made up of our biological processes. We carry these primitive traits around with use daily, even when they are not apparent. That means, as a regular part of our daily routines, we are using the pleasure-reward system in our brain. As we repeat these habits, no matter if they are good or bad, they become stronger.
Going through this cycle is often referred to as experiencing the habit loop. That loop breaks down into three parts, including the trigger, behavior, and reward. Here is an example of how that loop looks for substance abuse disorder:
- Trigger: Work caused stress and, as a result, you want a drink
- Behavior: This is the act of drinking
- Reward: Experiencing temporary stress relief
- Consequence: While this is not part of the habit loop, these acts lead to your brain curbing negative emotions and depends on the reward
Treatment for psychological dependence typically occurs after someone detoxes off of a substance. Because the detox process does not include emotional or mental dependence on substances, therapy, or classes are available to help with that attachment. As people suffering from addiction go through these therapies, they must also develop a strategy to prevent relapsing.
When Other Disorders Co-Occur with Psychological Dependence
Those who suffer from co-occurring disorders go through a dual-diagnosis treatment process. When a person suffers from a co-occurring disorder, that means there is the presence of addiction and mental illness. For example, when anxiety symptoms present, a person might begin using a substance to cope. We learn from the National Institute of Mental Health that, during 2014, nearly eight million Americans had a mental illness and substance abuse disorder co-occurring.
It can be challenging to receive a proper diagnosis for mental health conditions and addiction due to their similarities of symptoms. Those challenges might lead to one disorder receiving treatment and the other remaining undiagnosed. The consequences of that occurring lead to patients being more vulnerable to their mental health worsening or experiencing a relapse.
The following are the most common co-occurring disorder categories those with psychological dependence fall into:
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Mood disorders
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders
Reach Out to Blueprint Recovery Center
Are you worried that you, a friend, or a family member might be suffering from psychological dependence? Do you wonder about the causes and signs of this form of dependence? This issue is something that no one should have to go through alone. Blueprint Recovery Center offers programs to help you turn over a new leaf. Some of these programs include:
- Outpatient Treatment Program
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)
- Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
- Alumni Program
Contact 833.654.1004 to learn more about what this is, as well as how you can receive support. Get the help that you need today.