Substance abuse involves both physical and psychological components that are interconnected, and psychological dependence is an important and often overlooked part of this condition. Many people associate substance use with physical symptoms, like addiction, changes in weight, hair or tooth loss, and other health concerns. But behavior is a much more complex and invisible result of this kind of harmful habit.
Understanding psychological dependence and the role it plays in the development of substance abuse can help you support the people in your life who are working to overcome mental health issues. Learn more about this symptom and what you can do to help from the experts at Ascend Healthcare.
Understanding Psychological Dependence
What is psychological dependence? This term refers to the way that the brain comes to rely on a certain substance. The psychological element is distinct from physical dependence, which involves a reliance on a substance that results in physical withdrawal symptoms like headaches or nausea when an individual stops using it. Instead, psychological dependence will result in emotional or mental symptoms when an individual stops using a substance.
For example, those addicted to opioids experience physical withdrawal symptoms, including sweating, chills, or nausea. However, psychological withdrawal symptoms will involve:
- Mood Changes
This type of dependence can also involve worries about how to live without the substance of choice. Those struggling with substance abuse might continue to use drugs or alcohol because they feel they can’t live without it.
Treatment That Addresses Both Physical & Psychological Issues
The most effective treatment programs for substance abuse address both physical and psychological concerns. After addressing most physical dependence symptoms through detox, you must turn to the psychological issues for lasting sobriety. Many times detox facilities and residential treatment are separate because they require unique specialists to address each concern, but neither one is complete without the other.
To reach a place of sustainable sobriety, those in recovery need consistent support and help building healthy coping skills. In both one-on-one, group counseling sessions, and family therapy, teens work through the underlying causes of substance use issues and develop ways to avoid relapse in the future.
Psychological triggers for relapse can cause intense cravings even after the withdrawal period has passed. These triggers may include:
- Seeing people they used to drink or use drugs with
- Experiencing stress
- Struggling with mental health concerns
It’s important to give those in recovery the tools they need to counter these psychological dependence triggers without turning back to drugs or alcohol as coping mechanisms.
Reach Out to Ascend
If you’re a parent who has a child struggling with substance use issues, or you’re a teen that’s addressing their mental health alone, Ascend is here to help. Let us guide you through our personalized treatment plans and address any psychological dependence connected to the preferred substance.
We offer a welcoming, supportive environment for teens working to heal from substance use and mental health issues. With our unique blend of evidence-based therapy and experiential therapy, teens learn how to thrive in all types of environments.