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Differences Between Mental Dependence and Physical Dependence

Both physical and mental dependence can take an extreme toll on a person. Sometimes, a person has only a physical addiction, and other times a person might have only a mental dependence. However, depending on what they are addicted to, it might be both. If you or a loved one is currently experiencing either a physical or mental dependence, Zelus Recovery has a variety of addiction treatment programs available to you. Contact us today at 208.518.0797 to discuss the best treatment option for you.

Understanding Physical Dependence

Physical dependence and mental dependence can sometimes seem extremely similar and overlapping. However, there are some key differences. Physical addiction affects the body more than the mind itself, exhibiting a number of physical withdrawal symptoms. When somebody is experiencing a physical dependence and addiction, the chemical levels in their brain are altered as a result of the drug that they are using. Over time, the chemistry of the brain changes. Some common withdrawal symptoms of physical dependence are:

  • Depression
  • Anger
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Gastro-intestinal issues such as nausea
  • Trembling
  • Seizures

Physical addiction can most commonly be caused by substances such as heroin or methamphetamine. However, they can also be caused by something as harmless as coffee. Consider when you skip your morning coffee and get a “caffeine headache.” Once your body reacts physically to not taking or taking too much of something, that is physical dependence. People often wonder if alcohol dependence is a mental disorder. With this understanding of physical dependencies, it makes more sense that it is physical dependence. When somebody is addicted to alcohol, their withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly physically severe.

Mental Dependence

Narcotics cause both mental and physical dependence. Compared to physical addiction, mental dependence occurs when a person has a constant mental desire for a substance. For example, marijuana does not have any physically addictive components, but people who use marijuana regularly might develop a mental dependence. While some people might claim that it is not possible to become addicted to a drug such as marijuana, that is not true. A dependency mentality can occur with essentially any substance.

Mental dependence is influenced by the part of your brain called the “nucleus accumbens.” This is the part of your brain that controls pleasure and encourages you to recreate those pleasurable feelings. Once you use a substance that is stimulating to this part of your brain, it becomes more likely that you might become dependent on them.

Mental Dependence Vs. Physical Dependence

If you or a loved one is currently experiencing substance addiction, the next step should be seeking treatment. However, before you seek treatment, it is important to understand whether your addiction is more physical or mental. The treatment options for both dependencies can be different, and some might not be helpful for what you are going through.

If you suspect that your dependence is physical, you will want to seek a professional detox center to make sure that you detox safely. If you suspect that you’re experiencing mental dependence, you will want to speak to an addiction counselor who will help you productively work through your dependency mentality.

Narcotics Cause Both Physical and Mental Dependence

While some might experience either a physical or mental dependence, it is not uncommon for somebody to experience both. This type of addiction makes sense when you consider your brain to be part of your physical body. The best treatment for this type of addiction would be a combination of medical detox and addiction therapy. There are a number of options available for both of these treatments.

Mental and Physical Dependence Treatment at Zelus Recovery

Undergoing both mental and physical dependencies can be incredibly difficult and scary for a person. Here at Zelus Recovery, we have many treatment options available to fit your exact needs. If you have any questions about dependency mentality or treatment options, reach out today via 208.518.0797.