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The Psychology of Addiction
Thanks to advances in science and a relentless dedication to understanding addiction, we now know that physical changes in the brain and body contribute to the development of substance dependence. What people may not realize is that when it comes to drug addiction, psychology plays a huge part in explaining why addiction develops, too. This understanding can also help clarify why it can be so difficult for addicts to break free from an addictive substance. The psychology of addiction is an ongoing investigation, but as we learn more, we can better theorize and develop new and more successful methods of treatment.
How Psychological Dependence on Alcohol and Drugs Begins
For some, a psychological dependence on drugs forms as the result of a traumatic event. One such example is in the military, where one out of three veterans in treatment for substance abuse also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Whatever the cause of an initial trauma, individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with difficulty sleeping or avoid painful memories and feelings. This is not to say that PTSD is a requisite component of every addiction, but for those struggling with drug addiction, psychology can often play a role.
Addiction is different for everyone, based on their biology, psychological factors, and their experiences and environment. Certain people are born with a genetic makeup predisposed to taking more pleasure from drugs or alcohol, thus creating a more accepting environment for the development of addiction. Other individuals may develop an addiction as a result of their immediate physical and social environment. For example, someone with a psychological dependence on alcohol may have begun drinking at parties or in other highly enjoyable and happy situations and may continue drinking through times of stress as a way to revisit feelings of relaxation and well-being. The psychology of addiction also shows that some people turn to addictive substances as a way to handle their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. One possible example of this could be someone dealing with feelings of loneliness and social awkwardness begins drinking as a way to fit in and become more outgoing. And once a person starts using drugs or alcohol, even if their body is not yet physically addicted, they might find themselves psychologically addicted, continuing to use the substance because they feel that they want or need it, not because their body is physically craving it.
Can Psychological Dependence on Drugs Be Treated?
Many rehabs offer a medically assisted detox to keep patients physically safe and comfortable as the drug leaves their body, but a psychological dependence on drugs may still remain. Treatment of this dependence requires addiction counseling, self-reflection, constant awareness, and self-control. With the proper professional support and practice, many former addicts succeed in their effort to get sober and proceed to live healthy, happy lives. However, those who do not receive the psychological treatment they need may be more likely to return to drug abuse.
If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, BetterAddictionCare's pre-screening assessment may be a good place to begin your recovery. The assessment is a quick and easy way to sort through our nationwide recovery network, which includes some of the country's top outpatient, inpatient, and alternative rehab programs. Our network of facilities is always accepting new patients, and our team of client care specialists can help coordinate transportation and public or private insurance requirements, helping you find the most cost-effective option for treatment. Addiction is both a physical and psychological disease, and we can help you find the right treatment program for your unique situation.
Call today or fill out our contact form and start healing with the care and support of a highly trained, dedicated team.