Psychological dependency


According to the APA, Psychological Dependency refers to a mental a cycle where one is “dependent on a psychoactive substance for the reinforcement it provides.” This means that the physiological response to the medication or drug precipitates and simultaneously reinforces its continued abuse. For reasons of diagnostic criteria, this generally falls under the heading addiction, and are typically indivisible as phenomenon whereby craving is generated. The term with regards to addiction refers to a particular substance that the addict abuses compulsively because of the enjoyable mental affects it generates.

Causes of Condition

A woman experiences psychological dependencyTypically, people become dependent on something because its ingestion becomes associated with alleviation of mental duress. This mental duress can manifest as Depression, Anxiety, or a host of other uncomfortable emotional states. However, it is the cessation of discomfort that reinforces and creates the Psychological Dependency, as opposed to the physical dependence manifesting as a result of the emotional relief. As with other forms of addiction, each successive use tends to reinforce the next, and where physiological addiction is present, the affect is that much more amplified.

Spectrum of Term Usage

With regards to addiction per se, the term is actually falling out favor because Psychological Dependence is now associated with a number of compulsive behaviors that are not necessarily defined by abuse of a medication or drug. Psychological Dependence now refers to gambling disorders, sexually compulsive disorders, in addition to eating disorders and even internet pornography. This is in part due to the inexact and vague nature of the term itself. The fact that the term is so elastic – that it covers such a broad range of behaviors that as often as not have nothing to do with addiction to a substance – but rather a lifestyle has given rise to the use of the term dependence instead.

Symptoms of Addiction

Additionally, as researchers learn more about addiction as a medical condition, the term Psychological Dependency has also lost footing. Today, professionals view Addiction as a complex interplay between psychological and emotional factors, in addition to physiological traits and genetic predispositions.
Generally speaking, features of Addiction include:

  • Preoccupation with alcohol and drugs.
  • Inability to control one’s drinking or using.
  • Increased tolerance to alcohol or drugs.
  • The presence of Dependence, which typically manifests with withdrawal symptoms.
  • Continued Abuse, despite increasingly severe and negative consequences.
  • Distortions in thinking, usually demonstrated by what is referred to as Denial.

Comprehensive Treatment

With the exception of the last entry – denial – addiction specialists more and more have come to regard the process of addiction as being a process that occurs on a physiological level, with the psychological traits taking shape after the physical tendencies have taken form. At ARC, we treat addiction comprehensively, which means that we treat both the emotional factors and underlying physiology simultaneously as parts of the whole; where the division between the Physiological Addiction and Psychological Addiction, at least with regards to treatment protocols, is largely false.

Suffice to say by the time a person is in need of residential or outpatient treatment; Chemical Dependency has progressed into something far more overreaching than merely a set of maladaptive, abusive behaviors and tendencies. Detoxification is rarely enough, and in order for the Dependent person to truly surmount their own pathological pitfalls and enjoy a life of recovery they must be willing to confront and deconstruct a series of personality traits, assumptions, and belief systems that intertwine with their active Dependency.

Drugs with Abuse Potential

The following list is by no means comprehensive. There is available a multitude of drugs not on this list that nonetheless have enormous Abuse potential (it should be noted that, as such, each of the following substances listed occurs with its own set of psychological characteristics; each of which require specialized attention to adequately address). However, for the sake of expediency, people most frequently abuse the following substances:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Inhalants
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine

Psychological dependency can develop quickly. To fight back, comprehensive substance abuse treatment is necessary. Learn more about addiction treatment by contacting Authentic Recovery Center at 855-394-2779.