Can You Be Mentally Addicted to a Substance Without Physical Dependence?

Can You Be Mentally Addicted to a Substance Without Physical Dependence?

Addiction is often viewed as a physical dependence on a given drug or behavior, but this definition is somewhat misleading. Addiction is the use of any substance or behavior that is mood altering, regardless of any negative or adverse results. Addiction can involve physical dependence, psychological dependence, or both.

How to Identify Mental or Psychological Addiction

Mental addiction has a common set of symptoms, regardless of the substance. Some of the more common symptoms of psychological addiction include:

  • A high level of anxiety upon even considering recovery or attempting to stop use of the substance
  • Obsession with finding the drug or alcohol
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Change in appetite – loss of appetite is more common, but an increased appetite has also been seen
  • Refusal to acknowledge the addiction, even when presented with a strong case for it
  • Poor sleep patterns, including insomnia or sleepwalking
  • Intense cravings, anxiety and extreme restlessness when not actively using the substance, even if not in the context of recovery
  • Feelings of helplessness without the substance

It is not uncommon to hear people discounting the power of any mental condition or psychological disorder, or denigrating a person who is suffering from something that does have any physical component. This attitude is particularly damaging in the context of mental addiction. Individuals can continue to have intense cravings for a substance many years after they have stopped using it. These cravings can be intense and difficult to resist, even years down the path to recovery.

Cravings are the most indicative symptom of psychological addiction. The mind is convinced that an individual is not capable of functioning properly without this substance. Because the brain controls every function in the body, it is able to produce many physical symptoms to support this wrong assumption. It is vital for an individual suffering from psychological addiction (or even a person who is far down the road toward recovery), to acknowledge the craving without giving it space to impact his or her life again.

Find Addiction Help Today

If you know someone who is struggling with an addiction problem, whether that addiction is physical or psychological, it can feel overwhelming. Some days it seems as though nothing will help. The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you. We can answer your questions. The admission counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about addiction. They can help you find your way.