What Is the Difference Between A Physical and Psychological Addiction?

Addictions uniquely affect individuals differently, and not all symptoms are displayed in the same way.  Addictions to drugs and alcohol can manifest in a state of mental anguish, or they can physically reveal themselves. In some cases, a person suffering from addiction may experience both physical and psychological dependency. To receive the best course of medical care, it is important to understand how addiction is affecting the afflicted. Here are some of the notable differences between physical and psychological addictions:


What Is Physical Addiction?

Physical addiction is a dependency that is most frequently experienced by an individual that uses ‘hard’ substances such as heroin or crystal meth. Primarily, when someone is physically dependent on a substance, their body will react to withdrawals in a way that makes them feel sick and unwell. A socially normative form of physical addiction is experienced when someone who drinks coffee every day goes without their daily cup; such individuals may experience intense headaches, lethargy, or even constipation. Physical addiction symptoms can be severe if the addicted individual quits suddenly or does not ease into abstinence. Serious repercussions to sudden abstinence can include seizures, shaking, insomnia, and intense hunger pains. The addictive properties in certain drugs are what lead to physical dependency; here are a few substances that may perpetuate physical addiction:


  • Heroine
  • Cocaine
  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco/Nicotine
  • Methamphetamine


Here are some more symptoms of physical addiction: 


  • Increased tolerance to the effects of addictive substances
  • Changes in eating patterns/ lack of appetite
  • Uncharacteristic behaviour (i.e. lashing out with physical/verbal aggression when typically, calm)
  • Diarrhea
  • Cold sweating


What Is Psychological Addiction?

Psychological dependency may not appear in the same ways that a physical dependency would, but it can be mentally draining and painful for individuals that experience it. Psychological dependence occurs when individuals consume a traditionally non-addictive substance at the same time every day and begin to crave or desire it. Individuals that consume cannabis products (THC) daily may start to want and desire it at specific points of the day. People who consume copious amounts of sugar may also be psychologically dependent on sugar to improve their mood and fulfill sensations of hunger. Psychological dependency may not affect the body the way that physical addictions do; however, they can be detrimental when a user begins to modify their life plans to experience the effects of a substance. Individuals with psychological addictions may begin to cancel on social outings and may experience serious mood swings if they do not use whichever substance, they are dependent on. Alcohol has been known to affect users both physically and psychologically; commonly, users crave the euphoric feelings and bodily response to alcohol.

Aurora Recovery Centre is a judgement-free institution that is dedicated to helping everyone recover, whether it be from physical or psychological addiction. There is always a chance for you to grow from this. Contact Aurora Recovery Centre today for more detailed information.

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