What is Psychological Dependence?

Addiction is incredibly hard on both the body and the brain. Depending on what you\’re using, both your body and your brain can \”need\” or crave the substance. It should be noted that most physical behaviors have a connection to your brain and that physiological connection can be positive or negative depending on your level of need. If you\’re considering detox and treatment, both your body and your brain will need care and support.

What is psychological dependence? Cravings are often tied to or considered to be an indication of psychological dependence. For example, those who try cocaine feel a burst of confidence. If your ability to value yourself fails without cocaine in your system, you may be dealing with psychological dependence. Detox can protect your heart from physical damage, but quality therapy during a longer treatment program can help you find your self-worth again.

Psychological Dependence Can Turn Healthy Activities Into Dangerous Addiction

There are many healthy activities, such as losing weight and exercising, that can become addictions. If you are concerned about the hazards of such behavior, take a look at factors such as

  • injury: Have you worked out to the point of injury and tried to work through it instead of resting the injury?
  • body mass: Is your BMI lower than is healthy for your age?
  • time: Are you working out so much that you don\’t have time for relationships, school or work?
  • shame: Are you so focused on weight loss that you cannot enjoy eating at all, or are you purging?

Over time, obsessive exercise can lead to stress fractures, joint damage and limited mobility. Excessive dieting can lead to physical symptoms from hair loss to heart damage. Food obsessions that include purging, either via vomiting or via laxatives, can do permanent damage to the tissue in your digestive tract.

When any activity becomes an obsession, it\’s time to start tracking just how much time and how many resources are going into this activity. This doesn\’t just pertain to drug use, though any mood-altering substance can become dangerously obsessive if you come to lean on it. It is important to note that addiction is a disease because it changes your brain activity. Functionally, your brain goes from \”interested\” to \”obsessed\” when it gets a hit from something that feels particularly good. Sadly, the next hit is often not as good as the first one, which gets you into an addictive cycle of chasing the next high.

Psychological dependence is also supported by the justifying power of your brain. You don\’t need a drink, you\’re celebrating getting through a tough week. You don\’t obsessively exercise to the point of injury, you just need to work out until that torn muscle or inflamed tendon loosens up. It doesn\’t matter how many cookies you eat because you have laxatives in the cupboard. This justifying power can quickly get in he way of healthy living and hide from you just how out of balance your life has become. Too often, that combination of psychological dependence and justification means that you don\’t know you\’re in an addictive pattern until something really goes south. The torn muscle becomes dangerously inflamed. You black out at work or school because you haven\’t eaten for more than 24 hours. You get arrested for possession or ticketed for DUI.

These events often start folks on the path to treatment, but your brain is going to fight getting on this path. When your brain is really good at justifying and needs the drug or the behavior, those paths will continue to need. These cravings or needs can be agonizing. Detox should never be attempted alone. If you are detoxing from alcohol or an illegal drug, you may need medications, IV, or other intense medical care to keep your body from shutting down or suffering permanent harm. Finally, psychological dependence and cravings will make you very unhappy. Everyone around you will become a target.

If you try to detox from any obsessive activity on your own, you may do serious damage to relationships with anyone around you. Additionally, some obsessive activities, such as bulimia or anorexia, may take medical monitoring to get through the first round of feedings. Professional help can reduce the risk of permanent harm to all parties. Ready to get started? Call us today at 833-610-1174.

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