The Difference Between Physical vs Psychological Dependence

The addiction cycle disrupts the normal functions of some of these neuronal networks. Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no new data were created or analysed in this study. When we are psychologically dependent on someone, all we expect physiological dependence on alcohol from them is complete support. In therapy, you’ll typically explore patterns that trigger your use and work to create new patterns of thought and behavior. This condition can last for weeks, even months, and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

  • The mesolimbic reward system appears to be central to the development of the direct clinical consequences of chronic opioid abuse, including tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
  • Buprenorphine’s action on the mu opioid receptors elicits two different therapeutic responses within the brain cells, depending on the dose.
  • For example, an adolescent may impulsively take a first drink, smoke a cigarette, begin experimenting with marijuana, or succumb to peer pressure to try a party drug.
  • When heroin, oxycodone, or any other opiate travels through the bloodstream to the brain, the chemicals attach to specialized proteins, called mu opioid receptors, on the surfaces of opiate-sensitive neurons (brain cells).

Some people do well at home with regular doctor visits and support groups. And sometimes it takes more than one type of treatment to be successful. For example, we have long been told that people need to hit “rock bottom” before they’ll get help, but this isn’t true. Anyone with an addiction can get help at any point if they feel it’s the right time.

Substances Associated with Psychological and Physical Dependence

Aside from the long debated topic about whether addiction is a disease or a choice, there are also many people who question whether there is a difference between physical addiction and psychological addiction. Often people think of these as completely separate processes, but they are actually simultaneous. C. With repeated heroin exposure, the neuron increases its supply of enzyme and ATP molecules. Using these extra raw materials, the neuron can produce enough cAMP to offset the inhibitory effect of the drug and release roughly normal amounts of NA despite the presence of the drug. At this stage, the individual no longer experiences the same intensity of acute opioid effects as in earlier stages of abuse. B. When heroin or another opioid drug links to the mu opioid receptors, it inhibits the enzyme that converts ATP to cAMP.

physiological and psychological dependence

For those two million who are abusing opioids, or 29 million people with a substance abuse disorder to successfully get through rehab, they must have professional and ongoing support and give the program their complete commitment. In order to give yourself the best chance at attaining and maintaining a healthy and positive lifestyle, professional treatment is the preferred option when you’re trying to quit drugs. Although you may feel that you can stop whenever you want to, the reality is probably very different, as you are dealing with an illness, not just a habit. To truly get the most from your addiction treatment, you need to be able to understand the dynamics, so ongoing education and aftercare help is a huge part of getting clean.

Symptoms of Psychological Addiction

Drugs such as MDMA (ecstasy) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) also act on the serotonin neurotransmitter system to produce changes in perception. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid medication that is used for severe pain management and is considerably more potent than heroin. Other studies also show that when an addicted person is given a stimulant, it causes a smaller release of dopamine than when the same dose is given to a person who is not addicted. To understand how addictive substances affect the brain, it is important to first understand the basic biology of healthy brain function. Within the brain, a mix of chemical and electrical processes controls the body’s most basic functions, like breathing and digestion. What people are really referring to when they make this comparison is the distinction between physical withdrawal symptoms that are part of physiological dependence and the addictive process in the brain.

  • When it comes to treating your addiction, the physical aspects are often treated separately from the psychological ones, even though they go hand in hand.
  • Users who snort cocaine may experience loss of smell, nosebleeds, runny nose, and problems swallowing.
  • Cocaine increases dopamine levels in the brain, and frequent use stops regular communication between nerve cells.
  • For example, a person with a caffeine dependence who stops drinking coffee may have withdrawal symptoms for a few days but then feel better.
  • As I’d mentioned in earlier posts, our current best notions about addiction are that the process involves some obvious physical and psychological processes and some much more subtle effects on learning that are still being studied.

Cannabinoids such as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, target the brain’s internal or endogenous cannabinoid system. This system also contributes to reward by affecting the function of dopamine neurons and the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens. People who are addicted to a substance use it even if it has no medical benefit. Addictions are more likely to result in serious harm, including suicide, unlike tolerance and physical dependence. Fortunately, Volkow and her colleagues’ argument carried the day with the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 committee in 2013.

Stimuli Associated with Addictive Substances Can Trigger Substance Use

The best approach typically involves working with a professional to either gradually taper off use or stop use altogether while under supervision to manage withdrawal symptoms. When people use the term psychological addiction, they’re often talking about psychological dependence, not addiction. Physical dependence on a substance refers to the impact it has on your body. Drugs and alcohol cause changes in the way your brain functions and how the chemicals it produces affect the rest of your body.

Still, repeated use of any addictive substance can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. Drug withdrawal includes a variety of negative symptoms experienced when drug use is discontinued. For example, withdrawal from sedative drugs often produces unpleasant arousal and agitation. In addition to withdrawal, many individuals who are diagnosed with substance use disorders will also develop tolerance to these substances. Psychological dependence, or drug craving, is a recent addition to the diagnostic criteria for substance use disorder in DSM-5. This is an important factor because we can develop tolerance and experience withdrawal from any number of drugs that we do not abuse.

In other words, physical dependence in and of itself is of limited utility in determining whether or not someone has a substance use disorder. Drug use disorders are addictive disorders, defined within the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). Individuals who are diagnosed with substance abuse disorders often exhibit both physical and psychological dependence. Physical dependence involves a change in normal bodily function; the user will also experience withdrawal as they eliminate the drugs from their system. Withdrawal symptoms, when abstaining, may have the opposite effects of the drug’s action when it is used.

Opioid tolerance occurs because the brain cells that have opioid receptors on them gradually become less responsive to the opioid stimulation. For example, more opioid is needed to stimulate the VTA brain cells of the mesolimbic reward system to release the same amount of DA in the NAc. Therefore, more opioid is needed to produce pleasure comparable to that provided in previous drug-taking episodes. People can have just a physical dependence, addiction, or both at the same time.

What are the long-term effects of heroin?

Other withdrawal symptoms, like those mentioned in the coffee example, are just uncomfortable. You may also turn to substances to help you manage symptoms of mental health conditions, which can be overwhelming. Long-term use of drugs and alcohol leads your brain to adjust and stop producing dopamine naturally, instead relying on the substance to prompt the production. Physical dependence is marked by the onset of withdrawal symptoms when drug use is abruptly reduced or stopped, indicating the body’s acclimation and reliance on the drug to maintain its physiological balance.

  • There is always a constant craving to get the thing they are addicted to.
  • Addiction is a complex phenomenon that affects millions of individuals worldwide.