psychological dependence | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Drugs

Psychological dependence refers to the emotional and mental attachment to a substance, which can lead to cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and difficulty functioning without it.

Psychological dependence is one aspect of substance abuse and addiction that is often overlooked, as it does not involve the physical symptoms associated with physical dependence. Rather, psychological dependence is characterized by a strong emotional attachment to a substance and a perceived need for it to function in daily life. This attachment can be fueled by a range of factors, including stress, anxiety, depression, and past trauma.

Individuals who are psychologically dependent on a substance may experience intense cravings when they are unable to use it, leading to feelings of anxiety, agitation, and irritability. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite, and depression, which can further fuel the desire to use the substance.

The psychological aspects of substance abuse and addiction can be particularly challenging to address, as they often involve complex emotional and mental issues that may require specialized treatment approaches. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) can be effective in helping individuals to identify and address the underlying emotional and cognitive factors that contribute to their substance use.

Preventing psychological dependence on substance abuse involves promoting healthy coping mechanisms for stress and negative emotions, building strong support networks, and providing education on the risks and potential consequences of substance use. For those already struggling with psychological dependence, a comprehensive approach that addresses both the physical and emotional aspects of addiction is necessary to achieve long-term recovery.

Overall, psychological dependence is an important aspect of substance abuse and addiction that must be recognized and addressed in order to effectively prevent and treat these issues. By providing targeted interventions and support, we can help individuals to break free from the emotional and mental bonds of substance abuse and achieve greater emotional and mental well-being.

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Last Modified: 03/13/2023


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