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Psychological Dependence on Alcohol and Drugs

Thanks to advances in science and a relentless dedication to understanding addiction, we now know that physical changes in the brain and body contribute to the development of substance dependence in the form of psychological dependence in users. Many people who are suffering from substance abuse do not understand the role that the psychology of addiction can play in forming and maintaining their own harmful dependence on drugs and alcohol. This understanding can also help clarify why it can be so difficult for addicts to break free from an addictive substance, even when the sufferer is looking to get sober.

7 Minute Read | Published Oct 06 2023 | Updated Feb 23 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Dameisha Gibson
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Dameisha Gibson
Reviewed by

The study of psychological dependence is ongoing, but as we learn more, we can better theorize and develop new and more successful methods of treatment. The team at Better Addiction Care is dedicated to providing expert insights into addictions of all kinds. We are an expert sobriety resource for getting people the help they need in finding mental health treatment, drug rehabilitation, and dual diagnosis treatment centers.

What Is Psychological Dependence on Drugs and How Does It Start?

For some, psychological dependence on drugs forms as the result of a traumatic event that occurred either in childhood or much later in life. One such example is in the military, where one out of three veterans in treatment for substance abuse also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), leading to their drug addiction psychology being routed in adult life and experiences.

Whatever the cause of the initial trauma, individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with difficulty sleeping or avoid painful memories and feelings, leading to a need for further study of their psychology of addiction and recovery to be unique to them. This is not to say that PTSD is a requisite component of every addiction, but for those struggling with drug addiction, psychology can often play a role.

Addiction is different for everyone, based on their biology, psychological factors, their experiences, and their environment. Certain people are born with a genetic makeup predisposed to experiencing more pleasure from drugs or alcohol, thus creating a more accepting environment for the development of addiction. Other individuals may develop an addiction as a result of their immediate physical and social environment. For example, someone with a psychological dependence on alcohol may have begun drinking at parties or in other highly enjoyable and happy situations and may continue drinking through times of stress as a way to revisit feelings of relaxation and well-being.

The psychology of addiction also shows that some people turn to addictive substances as a way to handle their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. One possible example of this could be someone dealing with feelings of loneliness and social awkwardness who begins drinking as a way to fit in and become more outgoing. Once a person starts using drugs or alcohol, even if their body is not yet physically addicted, they might find themselves psychologically addicted, continuing to use the substance because they feel that they want or need it, not because their body is physically craving it.

What Is Psychological Dependence Treatment Like?

Though understanding the definition of psychological dependence is needed to grasp the full scope of the situation at hand, the actual methods of treatment should also be known. Explaining both allows sufferers to better understand what it will take to get out of their situation.

Many rehabs offer a medically assisted detox to keep patients physically safe and comfortable as the drug leaves their bodies. Psychological dependence on drugs, however, may still remain after the drugs have gone. Treatment of this dependence requires addiction counseling, self-reflection, constant awareness, and self-control. With the proper professional support and practice, many former addicts succeed in their effort to get sober and proceed to live healthy, happy lives. However, those who do not receive the psychological treatment they need may be more likely to return to drug abuse.

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, Better Addiction Care’s pre-screening assessment is a great place to begin your recovery. When coupled with the other sobriety resource options offered by our team, it can prove to be an amazing way to combat issues related to psychological dependence. Our team knows that the first step in getting the right care is to know what care you’re going to be getting. This is why our free addiction recovery resources are the perfect place to start your recovery journey.

How to Get Sober from Psychological Dependence

If you are suffering from a psychological dependence and have decided that getting sober is a priority, as it should be, then getting on the path toward health and happiness starts with knowing the options you have. Better Addiction Care offers free online sobriety resources that sufferers of drug abuse can use to start their journey off right by knowing all of the treatment centers and options at their disposal.

Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our services or the types of treatment offered at these various locations. You can also read some of our substance abuse, mental health, and treatment articles to get more insights from our team into these issues and their treatment. The road to recovery starts with you. Be the version of yourself that is the most informed and ready to start tackling the issues at hand with the help of Better Addiction Care.


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