Treating Psychological Addiction

What is psychological addiction? When an individual has a mental or emotional attachment to a substance or behavior, that is referred to as psychological addiction. The individual feels a strong compulsion to engage in substance abuse, and will get agitated and anxious if they can’t. This is not a physical dependency but a psychological one.

What Lies Behind Psychological Addiction?

The theory behind psychological addiction is that it develops through frequent and consistent exposure to a particular stimulus. Some behaviors which are known to cause psychological dependence are:

  • Gambling
  • Physical exercise
  • Sex
  • Eating high sugar or high fat foods
  • Shopping

In fact gambling is considered the top psychological addiction, followed by sex. Among drugs, Marijuana is the most psychologically addictive, but has few physical symptoms.

Symptoms of Psychological Addiction

The symptoms of psychological addiction can include:

  • Intense cravings to use the substance
  • Feelings of high anxiety if they try to end the addiction
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling unable to cope without the substance
  • Denial
  • Feelings of restlessness when not using the substance
  • A mental obsession with obtaining and using alcohol or drugs
  • Symptoms of depression when the individual tries to stop using the substance
  • Anxiety at the thought of not having access to the substance
  • Insomnia
  • Mood swings

Treating Psychological Addiction

It is important to remember that often psychological addiction doesn’t stand alone. Individuals can be physically addicted as well as psychologically. Therefore treatment for psychological addiction goes hand in hand with that for physical addiction, although they are conducted separately.

The first step is treating the physical addiction which is through a detox, usually medically supervised. The detox timeline can vary according to the drug and length and severity of use, but the goal is the get the drug out of the individual’s system. This could take a few days or a few weeks. Once the detox phase is over, the individual can begin treatment for psychological addiction. This kind of treatment must address the individual’s underlying desire to indulge in the compulsive behavior, whether it’s taking drugs, drinking alcohol or gambling. Experts recommend inpatient programs to learn behavioral coping techniques and how to handle relapse, which is an unfortunate part of recovery. A good rehab program will offer education sessions, relapse prevention plans and coping techniques.

Upon leaving treatment, the individual must develop a support network, like finding AA or NA meetings and grow new friendships with people who are also in recovery. AA and NA groups also assign sponsors to all members, and that person becomes the key person to contact when the individual is on the brink of relapse.

Addiction is a disease, and like any other disease it can be overcome with the right treatment and tools.

Lead Recovery offers individualized programs for young adults to support their transition to living a healthy lifestyle. Call us now to see how we can help you handle life’s challenges.