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

Drug addiction is the result of an emotional and physical dependence on a drug. Some drugs produce greater levels of physical dependence, while others produce emotional dependence only. Opiate drugs, like prescription painkillers, produce both physical dependence on the drug and emotional addiction to the feelings of euphoria the drug produces. No matter the type of habit-forming substance used, there is a potential to become addicted to some aspect of drug use.

Factors that Contribute to Addiction

There are many factors that contribute to addiction. If you or a loved one has any family history of addiction, you are at higher risk for addiction yourself. Living in or being raised in an environment with those who struggle with addiction can also increase your risk. Using prescription pain killers for long periods of time can lead to addiction, as well as needing prescription pain killers for chronic pain that is not well controlled. Experimenting with recreational drugs can begin a downward spiral toward addiction if drug tolerance develops and the person needs more of the substance to achieve the same effect.

Mental Addiction Vs. Physical Addiction

For people who struggle with addiction, finding the line between physical dependence and emotional addiction can be difficult. All drugs produce different physical side effects, but all drugs alter the way the brain looks and functions over time. In the case of prescription pain relievers, the drugs change the way the brain perceives pain and produce feelings of euphoria in the user. With repeated use, the brain stops producing the neurotransmitters that control pain, and the brain develops a dependence on the drug to do its work. Combine physical cravings and the feelings the drug produces, and you have a powerful addictive force at work in the body.

Treatment for Addiction

No matter how an addiction develops, breaking the cycle of physical and emotional drug cravings is an important part of ending substance abuse. At the beginning of rehab, the body is given the opportunity to rid itself of the toxins of the drug through detox. After detox, patients are diagnosed with any underlying mental illness that may be causing or contributing to the addiction. During rehab, patients are taught coping strategies and healthy ways of dealing with stress without turning to drugs. Through individual and group therapy, meditation, nutrition counseling, exercise and family therapy, rehab helps those struggling with addiction learn to live a drug-free life.

Finding Help for Addiction

If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.