Treating Physical vs. Psychological Addiction

Home / NorthStar Transitions Sober Living Blog / Treating Physical vs. Psychological Addiction

national depression screening dayAddiction is both physical and psychological – meaning it not only impacts the body but it also impacts the mind. Physical addiction, for instance, causes your body to become dependent on the drug to feel “normal.” Addictive substances can change chemical levels (that produce a feeling of pleasure or reward) deep inside the brain – and when those chemical levels are changed, they can produce a new normal for the brain. This is why people with substance use disorders develop tolerance and need more and more to get the same “high.”

This physical dependency is also what causes withdrawal symptoms – like fatigue, nausea or vomiting, muscle aches and pain, child, tremors, delirium and mood changes – when you cut down or try to quit using the drug. While some withdrawal symptoms can be minor, others can be life-threatening depending on the substance and duration of abuse.

Psychological addiction occurs when you have a mental rather than physical need for a drug. Or, when your mind develops daily cravings or intrusive thoughts about using that impacts your life in a negative way. The daily use of a drug reinforces the habit into a person’s mind and can cause psychological triggers when the drug is not present. Drugs like marijuana are psychologically addictive, and withdrawal includes symptoms like anxiety, mood swings and depression.

Treating Physical and Psychological Addiction
Treatment for physical addiction often includes medically supervised detox to ease signs of withdrawal in a safe environment and to deal with post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS) long after initial symptoms subside. Detox helps give you a fresh start to your recovery journey. The length of the detox treatment depends on the type and length of substance use.

Psychological treatment, on the other hand, addresses the underlying reasons behind the drug dependency and/or any co-occurring illnesses. It begins after the detox process and may include such therapies as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy alongside experiential therapy and wellness programs to develop healthy life skills and prevent relapse.

Life-Changing Addiction Treatment in Colorado
Choosing to enter treatment for physical and psychological addiction is the first step in rebuilding a better, sober life. At NorthStar Transitions we offer a range of addiction treatment programs to help your or someone you love achieve freedom from substance abuse. To learn more, call today: 303-558-6400.