Sunday, February 25, 2024

Is Alcohol Addiction Physical Or Psychological

The Relationship Between Physical And Psychological Addiction

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholism

Although physical and psychological addictions have characteristics that set them apart from each other, they do have a symbiotic relationship. Together, the two create a very debilitating and vicious addiction cycle that is notoriously difficult to break without professional help.

When you begin using drugs, your initial euphoric feelings are tied into the places and situations in which you use them. This then plays a role in reinforcing your future usage habits.

As your body gets used to whichever substances youre taking, youll need more and more drugs to achieve the same effect. This then begins to have a greater impact on your body chemistry and brain function. If, after this, you try to quit drugs, youll experience withdrawal symptoms, and should seek help from an experienced rehab center to get you through detoxification safely.

Because there is a strong relationship between physical vs. psychological addiction, both need addressing for full and holistic healing.

The Science Behind A Physical Dependence

The National Institute on Drug Abuse writes that a physical dependence occurs because the body naturally adapts to regular exposure to a substance . Usually, it happens when a person uses a substance every day or almost every day. So, medication prescribed by a doctor can still result in a physical dependence.

Tolerance makes this issue worse. The longer a person regularly uses a substance, the more likely they will build up a tolerance to it. Once this happens, they will need more of it to feel like how they did when they first started using it. This makes physical symptoms worse when they try to stop using it.

Physical And Psychological Addiction To Alcohol

Alcohol can be both physically and psychologically addictive. This is not a debate, discussion or theory, it is a fact and it is estimated that approximately 3 million people a year die from alcohol use worldwide. Drinking alcohol occasionally in moderation will not have any long-term negative side effects on your brain chemistry as dopamine levels and endorphins are only elevated for a short amount of time.

But when you indulge in long-term heavy drinking, frequent binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption, it does affect the delicate chemical balance within the brain. Sustained substance abuse will lead to permanent changes in the chemical make-up of the brain, resulting in alcohol dependence and addiction.

Alcohol is physically addictive because it alters the chemicals in your brain. The brain is a complex organ and normal brain function relies on a delicate balance between neurotransmitters. Drugs and alcohol modify the chemical balance in the brain and interfere with the normal release of neurotransmitters.

Alcohol reacts with the GABA receptors in your brain releasing endorphins and increasing dopamine levels that produce feelings of pleasure and euphoria. The desire to recreate these feelings and the fact that your brain associates the sensation of euphoria with drinking creates an increased desire to consume alcohol. When you stop drinking your body continues to crave the alcohol and the feelings of euphoria that go hand in hand with alcohol consumption.

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How Is Treatment For Alcohol And Drug Abuse Different From Mental Health Treatment

Many of the same treatment approaches and therapies are used to address substance use and mental health disorders. In fact, many treatment professionals are integrated providers, trained in both addiction and mental health treatment. A comprehensive approach to integrated treatment can also be delivered by a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and professionals working together on an individual’s treatment plan.

Some differences do exist between the two types of treatment. Mental health treatment often focuses on and exploration of a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors, focusing on ways to improve those feelings through one-on-one counseling or group therapy. This type of treatment often includes medication paired with psychotherapy.

However, integrated treatment for substance use disorders and mental health disorders share a focus on mind, body and spirit. Components that are typical of treatment of substance use disorders typically include:

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What Is Psychological Dependence

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What is a psychological dependence on alcohol? It is a pathological craving for alcoholic beverages. In simple terms, it is love for drinking and enjoyment of the state of alcoholic intoxication. Psychological dependence on alcohol is manifested, first of all, in a desire to achieve a state of intoxication and euphoria and not to a specific alcoholic beverage. This craving becomes a frequent pleasant need, sometimes an obsession. However, alcohol consumption may not be frequent.

Psychological dependence on alcohol is formed in the brain and is associated with the neurotransmitter metabolism of dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid . Under the influence of alcohol, neurons become accustomed to a specific state of arousal, which in cases of severe intoxication can be compared with a euphoria experienced during the use of narcotic substances.

To reach a comfortable state, a person increasingly needs alcohol and an increase in the amount of alcohol drunk. As a result, loss of dose control becomes a serious symptom of the development of alcohol disorder. In a state of alcoholic intoxication, control over the situation disappears, behavior changes, and in the morning, one may not remember some events that occurred during the state of intoxication.

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When Does Alcohol Withdrawal Develop

Alcohol withdrawal is a serious condition that can become life-threatening if not treated. Symptoms typically develop within several hours to a few days after a person has stopped drinking. It is important for individuals who may have Alcohol Use Disorder to consult a doctor or other healthcare provider, to be honest and forthcoming to determine if they have a drinking problem and, if so, to collaborate on the best course of action.

Holistic Treatment For Addiction

Whether someone is suffering from the effects of physical or psychological addiction, holistic addiction treatment is the best course of action. Addiction treatment centers use various evidence-based techniques to teach people to manage cravings, overcome withdrawal, and build a life outside of substance use.

With targeted medication, intensive psychotherapy, professional care, and social support networks, clients can recover from addiction within the safety of an optimal healing environment.

If youd like to know more about how All Points North Lodge uses a variety of cutting-edge treatments to help people overcome addiction, contact us at or start a to connect with a recovery expert.

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Is Alcoholism Linked To Other Mental Illnesses

Many people who are diagnosed with AUD are dually diagnosed with another mental health disorder, further connecting alcoholism and mental illness. Alcohol abuse can begin as a maladaptive coping mechanism for the untreated symptoms of a mental illness such as depression or anxiety. Rather than abating the symptoms of an existing disorder long-term, AUD usually creates more mental health-related issues as it progresses.

The co-occurring mental health issues can lead to a cycle in which the user is drinking to alleviate symptoms of a disorder . At the same time, excessive alcohol use and abuse are likely making the symptoms of depression worse for the alcoholic.

Not only is alcoholism considered a mental illness that can exist in sync with other mental illnesses, but it may also lead to the development of a mental illness. Alcohol-induced depression, self-harm, suicide, and psychosis, are linked with alcohol abuse, especially when used in combination with other substances.

Drinking Addiction: Psychological Or Physical

The Psychology Of Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Dear Alice,

Is alcoholism an habitual addiction or can it also be a chemical one? I have heard that it is not chemical, but have lived with people who needed the alcohol every night.

Signed,Healthy Drinker?

Dear Healthy Drinker?,

Your confusion is understandable as alcohol use disorder can be BOTH a habitual and a chemical addiction. Psychological dependence occurs when a person drinks in order to function “normally” and feel good. If a person stops drinking, they may experience changes in mood such as anxiety, depression, or irritability. Physical dependence, on the other hand, is when a person’s body adapts to chronic use of alcohol and results in physical symptomsâsuch as vomiting and diarrheaâwhen the person stops drinking. That being said, the old assumption that there is a complete separation between the mind and the body is both reductive and inaccurate based on our current understanding of how addictions work. Itâs true that psychological dependence and physical dependence are different concepts, but there are also some ways in which the two are connected and may lead to alcohol use disorder.

  • Experiencing cravings for alcohol
  • Finding it difficult to socialize or feel happy without alcohol
  • Feeling anxious or depressed when drinking stops
  • Spending significant amounts of time trying to obtain alcohol
  • Feeling like itâs impossible to stop drinking
  • Having trouble concentrating or making decisions

Wishing you well,

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Psychological Effects Of Alcohol

When it comes to the brain, alcohol acts as a depressant to the CNS. However, it can have inconsistent effects, exciting users under some conditions and sedating users under other conditions. Excitement, typically at lower doses, may be due to alcohol suppressing the inhibitory parts of the brain. Functions such as breathing, speech, thought, memory, and movement can be impacted by consuming alcohol. Mental effects may include mood changes, decreased inhibitions, relaxation, impaired judgment, slowed reaction times, difficulty remembering, confusion, and loss of consciousness.3 Chronic use of alcohol can lead to changes in the brain, as described in previous sections.

Excessive alcohol use, even if not chronic, can lead to alcohol-induced psychiatric syndromes, such as alcohol-induced depressive disorder, alcohol-induced bipolar disorder, alcohol-induced sleep disorder, alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, and more.17,22 These disorders are temporary and can occur after significant intoxication and/or withdrawal.22

What Is Physical Addiction

Older notions concentrated on the physical aspects of withdrawal as defining features of addiction. Even today, the term physical addiction is used to primarily refer to two aspects of addictive behaviors that commonly occur in substance abusers: tolerance and withdrawal.

People who experience withdrawal symptoms always develop some level of tolerance to the drug first. Withdrawal symptoms signify physical dependence on the substance. Displaying physical dependence alone does not necessary mean that you have developed a substance use disorder.

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How Is Alcohol Dependence And Addiction Diagnosed

When determining if a patient is alcohol dependent, doctors look for indicators that demonstrate the person cant control their drinking and has a strong internal need to consume alcohol.

They specifically check for the following signs:

  • A reduced ability to control alcohol use. This could entail being unable to manage the duration of a drinking session, the amount of alcohol consumed, how frequently you drink, your ability to continue drinking once you start, or whether you drink at inappropriate times or locations.
  • Giving alcohol higher importance: if drinking takes precedence over other everyday obligations and commitments like family or work, if drinking is more essential to you than taking care of your health, or if you continue to drink despite drinking having a detrimental impact on your health or life.
  • Negative effects of alcohol on the body or mind: displaying signs of increasing alcohol tolerance , going through withdrawal, or using alcohol to stop or lessen withdrawal symptoms.

Based on your continued history of alcohol use, your doctor may determine that you have alcohol dependency if you exhibit two or more of the symptoms mentioned above. Alcohol dependency can be diagnosed based on a continuous daily alcohol usage for a period of at least three months. However, generally, this is based on behaviour during the previous 12 months or more.

What Does It Mean To Be Psychologically Dependent

Is Alcohol Stopping You From Reaching Your Goals?

Psychological dependence focuses more on the mental state an addiction induces, in the sense that usually, an addiction to something allows the person to achieve a different mind and/or emotional state. Psychological dependence usually affects how somebody behaves, and withdrawal symptoms manifest as extreme emotional/motivational issues.

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Is Addiction Physical Psychological Or Both

  • Is Addiction Physical, Psychological, or
  • Some people may view addiction as either physical or psychological, when it is, in fact, a combination of both. Since the brain and the body are intricately connected, it seems obvious that addiction is both physical and psychological. However, there is a difference between physical dependence in which the body adapts to the drug, and addiction in which there is an inability to stop using the drug. This distinction may be why some people ask whether addiction is physical or psychological.

    Physical vs. Psychological

    Addiction leads to harmful consequences for the sufferer affecting their work, social, and familial responsibilities. These effects are psychological. Alternately, building a tolerance to the drug used, in which more of the drug must be used to achieve the same effect, is physical dependence. Furthermore, withdrawal from the drug used occurs when its use is suddenly stopped and creates physical difficulties for the substance user. Chronic use of drugs leads to these detrimental physical effects. Although physical dependence does not necessarily create an addiction, it often accompanies it.

    The Physical Effects of Withdrawal

    The Connection Between Withdrawal, Tolerance, and Addiction

    Need Help?

    If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call us today at or visit us online.

    Treatments For Physical Addiction

    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. When you decide to begin treatment, you need to get through a medically supervised detox in order to minimize any potential dangers of withdrawal and to address the physical aspects of your addiction.

    This physical withdrawal usually lasts between a few days, a week, or perhaps longer depending on the drug type, how long youve been taking it, and usage amount.

    When you participate in the detoxification services at 12 Keys, youll be slowly weaned off the substance youre addicted to, to minimize any negative physical withdrawal symptoms and to ensure that your detoxification is medically supervised.

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    Symptoms Of Physical Addiction

    Substance abuse is a very serious problem that should never be ignored. When youre physically addicted, it can manifest as both physical and psychological symptoms. These symptoms occur due to changes in the brain and central nervous system, which are a result of chronic substance abuse.

    If youre worried that you might be physically addicted, there are some physical and psychological warning signs to look out for:

    How Addiction Affects The Brain

    Alcoholism – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

    DrugAbuse.gov offers an insightful explanation based on brain image studies from people addicted to drugs. The study found, physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical for judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behavior control in addicted people. Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of an addicted person.

    In this case, addiction is demonstrated as both a mental, or psychological, and chemical, or physical, affect in the brain, thus providing evidence that addiction is both psychological and physical.

    Not to mention, addictions are formed because they influence the part of the brain that controls pleasurable feelingsthose creating a strong desire to recreate the pleasurable feelings associated with substances. Every single drug affects dopamine levels in the brain, creating the reward response, or formed need to keep supplying it with the substance.

    This can even be true for food. When someone eats a piece of chocolate, the brain can find it very pleasurable and it stimulates the reward center in the brain. Because of this, a person is much more likely to want to eat chocolate regularly in the future. The same is true for drugs, which is how addictions are formed.

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    What Is The Difference Between Addiction In Physical And Psychological Dependence

    Addictionis a subtle or severe craving or dependence on something and can come in many forms.

    Addiction, primarily, is defined as a physical and/or psychological dependence on substances and/or behaviours .

    Physical and psychological dependence differ in how they affect the body and mind. Smoking cigarettes affects the body and mind in the feelings it induces and the dependence symptoms it causes.

    Physical dependence is the way the substances or behaviours affect the body, whereas psychological dependence is the emotional state and needs the substance or behaviour abuse induces.

    Chasing The Positive Feeling

    If you drink heavily over a period of time, the brains chemistry adjusts to the effects of alcohol.

    You may start to rely on alcohol to relieve negative feelings or deal with problems.

    You might need to drink more and more to get the desired positive effect. As you drink more, the risk of becoming dependent increases.

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    Are There Different Phases Of Alcoholism

    Yes, to be exact, there are three different stages of alcoholism. They are known as problematic drinking, severe alcohol abuse, and obsessive alcohol abuse. As we have mentioned earlier, unlike many other types of addiction and mental health issues, the transition from innocent social drinking to alcohol abuse and alcoholism can be subtle and take a long time. In fact, many people might not even truly realize that they have a problem until it is too late. This goes for those around the person as well. Its for this reason alone that it is important to understand the different stages of alcoholism as well as what to look for.

    Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders And Their Treatment

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    People with alcohol use disorders drink to excess, endangering both themselves and others. This question-and-answer fact sheet explains alcohol problems and how psychologists can help people recover.

    Understanding alcohol use disorders and their treatment.

    For many people, drinking alcohol is nothing more than a pleasant way to relax. People with alcohol use disorders, however, drink to excess, endangering both themselves and others. This question-and-answer fact sheet explains alcohol problems and how psychologists can help people recover.

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