Difference Between Physical And Psychological Dependence

Understanding the difference between psychological and physical dependence, as well as how they both relate to addiction, can be helpful if you’re concerned with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use. Recognizing that many factors are involved in addictive behavior may help breed compassion as you assist a friend or family member on their road to recovery. Remember that addiction is treatable, and the more you understand the disease, the more you may be able to support a loved one as they go through treatment.

  • As your body gets used to whichever substances you’re taking, you’ll need more and more drugs to achieve the same effect.
  • CRF antagonist reverses the “anxiogenic” response to ethanol withdrawal in the rat.
  • When you introduce drugs into your body, your system will compensate by creating its own chemical reactions to counter their effects.
  • Direct2Recovery specializes in management and treatment options for substance use disorder; alcohol, opiates, heroin and other harmful substances.
  • The severity of craving following detoxification may be dependent on endorphin release and the availability of opioid receptors in the NAC.

Overstreet DH, Knapp DJ, Breese GR. Modulation of multiple ethanol withdrawal-induced anxiety-like behavior by CRF and CRF1 receptors. No matter whether you’re dealing with a moderate or strong addiction, there’s hope. Work with a set of addiction treatment experts who can help you with your substance use disorder.

Alcohol Dependence

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physiological dependence on alcohol

Therefore, an understanding of the receptor mechanisms that mediate the discriminative stimulus effects of alcohol can be used to develop medications aimed at decreasing the subjective effects induced by alcohol. The subunit composition of glycine receptors and other receptors is also critical in the response to ethanol. Thus α1-containing glycine receptors appear to be more sensitive to low concentrations of ethanol than α2-containing receptors .

Psychological Dependence Only

Having highlighted this complex interaction, it is obvious that a reductionistic approach has certain limitations in achieving a better understanding of the pathological processes leading to an addictive behavior. Instead, a perspective of systems-oriented biomedicine, in which all interactions and dynamics of all endogenous and environmental factors involved are centrally integrated (Fig. 2), is suggested to lead to further progress . Physical dependence is synonymous with the body’s tolerance to alcohol or a specific drug. This means, over time, the body will require more of said drug in order to achieve the same desired effects. Being physically dependent on a drug also means a person will typically experience physical withdrawal symptoms if they reduce dosage significantly or stop taking the drug all together. Some physical withdrawal symptoms are more mild, such as nausea and vomiting, while others, like seizures or irregular heartbeat, can be life-threatening. When discussing substance abuse and addiction there is a lot of lingo that gets thrown around.

  • In such changing life situations, alcohol use, particularly heavy use, can reduce the intensity of negative mood states and, in the initial stages, dampen unpleasant physiological phenomena such as sleeplessness or restlessness .
  • 386 Rassnick S, Stinus L, Koob GF. The effects of 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the nucleus accumbens and the mesolimbic dopamine system on oral self-administration of ethanol in the rat.
  • Work with a set of addiction treatment experts who can help you with your substance use disorder.
  • In summary, alcohol-induced alterations in methylation and acetylation patterns may have an impact on long-lasting alterations in gene expression.
  • Ending this part of the addiction is vital for continuing to tackle psychological dependence.
  • 59 Bohman M, Cloninger R, Sigvardsson S, von Knorring AL. The genetics of alcoholisms and related disorders.

Thus stimulation of NMDA receptors leads to Ca2+ influx, and binding of Ca2+ to calmodulin activates, among others, neuronal NO synthase which produces NO from arginine. NO is one of the few known gaseous signaling molecules and can act as a retrograde messenger. Activation of guanylyl cyclase and the resulting elevation of cGMP is a major downstream signal of NO in neurons.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy allows quantitative and noninvasive access to a number of metabolites in various brain regions in vivo. Significant neurometabolite changes detected to date in alcohol-dependent patients are reduced N-acetylaspartate and reduced choline-containing compounds . Furthermore, findings of significant differences in both NAA and Ch, occurring largely in the frontal white matter area, are in accordance with the finding that white matter loss is the most prominent structural change in the brains of alcohol-dependent subjects . Although the VTA-NAC pathway is the most extensively studied circuit with regards to reinforcement processes, it is clear that other brain regions, especially those of the extended amygdala, are also essential components . There is evidence that synaptic plasticity in two additional regions, the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis and the amygdala, may also be modified by ethanol. The BNST is considered to be a component of the extended amygdala and plays a role in stress- and reinforcement-related limbic circuitry. NMDAR-dependent LTP triggering in the BNST is impaired by acute ethanol ingestion, in part through the attenuation of NMDAR-mediated synaptic currents .

physiological dependence on alcohol

If you stop using opioids, your central nervous system goes into overtime, trying to rebalance itself without the help of drugs and you begin to experience physical withdrawal symptoms like vomiting, muscle aches, and rapid heart rate. Activation of the HPA axis and CRF-related brain stress circuitry resulting from alcohol dependence likely contributes to amplified motivation to drink. Similarly, systemic administration of antagonists that selectively act at the CRF1 receptor also reduced upregulated drinking in dependent mice (Chu et al. 2007) and rats (Funk et al. 2007; Gehlert et al. 2007). Moreover, after receiving some of these medications, animals exhibited lower relapse vulnerability and/or a reduced amount consumed once drinking was -initiated (Ciccocioppo et al. 2003; Finn et al. 2007; Funk et al. 2007; Walker and Koob 2008). Indeed, clinical investigations similarly have reported that a history of multiple detoxifications can impact responsiveness to and efficacy of various pharmacotherapeutics used to manage alcohol dependence (Malcolm et al. 2000, 2002, 2007).


Feelings of “needing” drugs or alcohol to cope with daily stressors, go to sleep, be social, etc. Not being able to stop drug usage is a common symptom of psychological dependency versus physical https://ecosoberhouse.com/ dependency. If you or a loved one are having seizures, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Seizures are sudden and uncontrolled actions disturbing the brain wave pattern.

physiological dependence on alcohol

More direct evidence supporting increased alcohol consumption as a consequence of repeated withdrawal experience comes from animal studies linking dependence models with self-administration procedures. For example, rats exposed to chronic alcohol treatment interspersed with repeated withdrawal episodes consumed significantly more alcohol than control animals under free-choice, unlimited access conditions (Rimondini et al. 2002, 2003; Sommer et al. 2008). Similar results have been reported in mice, with voluntary alcohol consumption assessed using a limited access schedule (Becker and Lopez 2004; Dhaher et al. 2008; Finn et al. 2007; Lopez and Becker 2005).

Without medical supervision, it’s possible to experience seizures, as well as cardiac arrest. Your body is always doing its best to maintain equilibrium, and excessive use of substances changes this. There comes the point when your body doesn’t know how to function without your substance of choice. When the drug or alcohol begins to metabolize, you start to experience the harsh symptoms of withdrawal.

The dorsal raphe nucleus 5-HT system modulates the DAergic activity of the VTA and the NAC . Blockade of 5-HT3 receptors, therefore, selectively prevents both ethanol-induced DA release in the NAC and the somatodentritic release of DA in the VTA . Finally, glycine receptors also modulate the DA release properties of A10 neurons since they are a primary target of ethanol. Thus reversed microdialysis of the competitive glycine receptor antagonist strychnine into the NAC decreases accumbal extracellular DA levels, whereas reversed microdialysis of the agonist glycine increases DA levels in the NAC . Furthermore, local perfusion of strychnine not only decreases accumbal DA levels per se, but also completely prevents an increase in accumbal DA levels following administration of ethanol .

Programs With A Focus On Psychological Dependence

In an initial MRS study, acamprosate or placebo was given to non-alcohol-dependent volunteers . In the group treated with acamprosate, NAA and glutamate signals in the brain were decreased compared with those observed in the placebo group, suggesting that acamprosate does indeed interact with glutamatergic neurotransmission in the human brain. These few examples demonstrate that multielectrode recording in freely moving animals may, in the future, prove to be a significant physiological dependence on alcohol approach in understanding alterations of neural network activity during the course of long-term alcohol consumption. Application of this technique to investigate the transition from alcohol-seeking behavior to more compulsive behavior would be of particular value (see sect. As well as GABAA, another key player in mediating the effects of alcohol is the glutamate receptor. The glutamatergic system is strongly linked to the intra- and extracellular messenger nitric oxide .

  • However, such studies would need to be performed over a long time period, with repeated measurements being taken over several weeks or even months; data handling and analysis would be further limiting factors.
  • The effects of carbamazepine and lorazepam on single versus multiple previous alcohol withdrawals in an outpatient randomized trial.
  • Becker HC. Positive relationship between the number of prior ethanol withdrawal episodes and the severity of subsequent withdrawal seizures.
  • Understanding the difference between psychological and physical dependence, as well as how they both relate to addiction, can be helpful if you’re concerned with a loved one’s drug or alcohol use.
  • With regular use of depressants, it is relatively easy to develop a physical tolerance.

In fact, most modern evidence-based treatments are based on the understanding that there some crucial distinctions. For the vast majority of people who are addicted to alcohol, the first big decision they must make is to become willing to seek treatment for their addiction. The second decision is of vital importance as well—choosing the right alcohol rehab to se … All too often, addicts are recycled through drug rehab treatment facilities across the country, where they are given the basics of recovery, but little else. Sent back out into the world, they lack the foundation in sobriety necessary to sustain long … In order to give yourself the best chance at attaining and maintaining a healthy and positive lifestyle, professional treatment is the preferred option when you’re trying to quit drugs. Although you may feel that you can stop whenever you want to, the reality is probably very different, as you are dealing with an illness, not just a habit.

Still, repeated use of any addictive substance can lead to both physical and psychological dependence. Psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol is the emotional, motivational, and mental addictive qualities that come with substance abuse. Also known as a psychological addiction, psychological dependence has been linked to marijuana addiction, hallucinogen addiction, and other drug addictions that don’t have a strong physical dependency component to them. Even opiate addiction, alcohol addiction, and meth addiction, which are physically addictive, have a psychological element that perpetuates a substance use disorder. Given that alcoholism is a chronic relapsing disease, many alcohol-dependent people invariably experience multiple bouts of heavy drinking interspersed with periods of abstinence (i.e., withdrawal) of varying duration. For example, clinical studies have indicated that a history of multiple detoxifications increases a person’s susceptibility to more severe and medically complicated withdrawals in the future (e.g., Booth and Blow 1993).

D Signaling Pathways Involved In Alcohol Reinforcement

A psychological dependence affects the mind negatively in terms of mood, feelings, and thoughts. It’s less likely they can tell if a person suffering from a substance use disorder feels sad every single day. People can see when a person with an alcohol use disorder is suffering from tremors without them saying anything. While others can’t observe it per se, a person suffering from it can feel the sensation.


The staff is amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better place to just be ME.” -Tiffany W. 544 Yücel M, Lubman DI, Harrison BJ, Fornito A, Allen NB, Wellard RM, Roffel K, Clarke K, Wood SJ, Forman SD, Pantelis C. A combined spectroscopic and functional MRI investigation of the dorsal anterior cingulate region in opiate addiction.

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