There are many misconceptions out there regarding addiction. One of which is that an addiction is a standalone physical illness which materialises from a conscious action.

However, while the action which fuels an addiction does begin on a physical basis, it is in fact an illness which causes physical and psychological adaptations, all depending on personal encounters and responses.

When looking into the complex scientific topic of addiction, there are in fact independently driven physical addiction diagnoses, independently driven psychological addiction diagnoses and a dual effect addiction, where both physical and psychological functions are adapted.

As many individuals lack awareness around the makeup of addiction, at Addiction Advocates, we’re here to raise awareness around the different types of addiction diagnosis, signs and symptoms of each, and steps to take to overcome any form of addiction.

We believe that having full knowledge of the type of addiction that you or someone you know is experiencing is very important, understanding the severity of reality and proactive steps of dual diagnosis treatment.

Here’s the ins and outs of physical vs psychological addiction: what is the difference when considering signs and symptoms, when considering severity, and when considering recovery potentials. If you’re struggling with any degree of addiction, we can help you through our 24/7 helpline, referring you to the most suited form of rehabilitation.


The ins and outs of a physical addiction

A physical addiction materialises from the physical action which soon turns into a habit. For example, a physical drug and alcohol addiction will materialise from the physical consumption of those addictive substances.

Common signs of a physical addiction will be found through side effects and withdrawal symptoms. For those who are experiencing a physical addiction, in between consumption they will struggle physically, as the body experiences shock. For example, nausea, delirium tremens and the shakes are common withdrawal symptoms of a physical drug and alcohol addiction.

Overtime, the body will begin to adapt, down to excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol. Chemicals will become imbalanced, causing a significant change to functionality.

In order for functionality to revert, on a physical basis, drug and alcohol abuse will then be used to rebalance those chemicals.

In order to overcome a physical addiction, detoxification will commonly be recommended, helping to slowly revert functionality without the presence of drugs and alcohol.

While branded as an easier addiction to overcome, detoxification can be hard on the body, resulting in significant withdrawal symptoms, especially from drugs such as opioids, nicotine and alcohol.


The ins and outs of a Psychological Addiction

When considering a psychological addiction, it of course will begin with the same action as a physical addiction. However, instead of causing physical adaptations, drugs and alcohol will influence psychological adaptations, causing the need for consumption.

Through consistent and excessive drug and alcohol abuse, a tolerance will build up. This will be the case on both a physical and psychological basis. However, on a psychological basis, the brain will learn to crave that tolerance in order to experience happy chemicals, such as dopamine.

A psychological addiction is very dangerous, as irreversible changes can be caused on a cognitive basis, where the ability to produce happy chemicals will dwindle. This is where the vicious circle of drug and alcohol abuse can heighten, as those chemicals are required to continue a high-quality life.

Over the period of a psychological addiction, users are also likely to experience the feeling of denial, mental health issues, psychological impairment and cognitive weaknesses.

All are very serious side effects which will change the reward system in the mind, will change habits and behaviours, will change beliefs and will change personalities.

In order to overcome a psychological addiction, vast cognitive restoration will be required. This will be possible through the likes of cognitive behavioural therapy and talking therapies, helping to revert beliefs and compulsive behaviours.

Through psychological adaptations, physical actions will then also change overtime, which is where a dual effect addiction can materialise, causing physical and psychological associations.

With this in mind, by considering the physical vs psychological addiction breakdown, while there’s a key difference, both can combine, all depending on the drug in mind and also the personal response of each user.


What is the difference between Physical vs Psychological Addiction?

By considering the question of ‘physical vs psychological addiction: what is the difference?’, it’s easy to see that personal responses act as that key difference. For example, a physical response will be found through a physical addiction, while a psychological will be through a psychological addiction.

A further difference is that addiction treatment services will deviate, as targeted forms must be used to treat the variations of a physical dependence vs psychological dependence.

In addition, the type of drug which has been consumed can drive the type of addiction, which is experienced, where the likes of cocaine will be linked to psychological associations, while alcohol will be linked to physical associations.

It is however important to remember that some drugs can cause a dual effect addiction, where physical and psychological side effects, withdrawal symptoms, and cravings will be experienced, also requiring a dual diagnosis treatment programme.

We must add that, commonly, a physical addiction will act as an independent. If substance abuse is enabled, there is a strong chance for psychological associations to develop. However, in most cases, standing as a key difference, a psychological addiction will already carry physical associations, speeding up the intensity and severity of an addiction diagnosis.


Sourcing Addiction Support via Addiction Advocates

Whether you’re suffering from a physical or psychological addiction to drugs and alcohol, it is very important that you do aim to source substance abuse treatment.

While differences may be present when considering the body and brain response rates, the necessity of treatment is common across both forms of addiction.

Treatment services will differ, depending on the makeup of the addiction. At Addiction Advocates, we find that many clients do experience a mixture of physical and psychological associations, where a crossover is experienced, requiring dual diagnosis treatment for physical cravings and mental health-like side effects.

However, as an addiction is complex and stands as a personal illness, causing many different responses, treatments will be recommended personally to each client through our services.

Whether you’re experiencing a physical or psychological addiction, it is very important that you take it seriously and embrace the professional support available to you. The common consensus is that, without intervention, both forms of addiction will materialise and end in life-limiting results.

Overcome addiction with our guidance or alternatively reach out for more information on the topic of ‘physical vs psychological addiction: what is the difference?’.