If an addictive substance is used long enough, whether it’s taken as directed or not, a dependency may form. Physical dependence — as opposed to psychological dependence — is a result of chronic drug use and can happen when taking prescription drugs or using illicit substances or legal ones, like alcohol.
What Is Physical Dependence?
A physical dependency develops when your body can no longer function normally without alcohol or drugs. This can happen even when taking medication as prescribed if that medication has the potential for causing a physical dependency.
If you are physically dependent on a drug or alcohol, you’ll notice that you have withdrawal symptoms if you stop using it. Those withdrawal symptoms may be minor or acute depending on how often you take the substance, the quantity you ingest, and other factors.
What’s the Difference Between a Physical Dependency and an Addiction
A physical dependency is not the same as an addiction. A physical dependency means that your body needs a drug to function normally, even if you do not have cravings for it or want to take it. This issue can accompany addiction, but medically speaking it does not mean you’re addicted to something in and of itself.
Addiction is different largely because it consists of compulsive drug use even though that use may have harmful consequences.
What Are the Symptoms of a Physical Dependency?
The symptoms of a physical dependency vary from person to person and by the substance. Some of the most common symptoms of a physical dependency will occur when the person begins to withdrawal from the substance. In that case, symptoms may include:
- Clammy skin
- Trouble sleeping
For most people, the symptoms of physical dependency are not dangerous, but they may be painful or uncomfortable. This can often lead to relapse, which is why seeking help from a qualified addiction treatment program is a good idea.
How Can You Beat Physical Dependence?
The only way to beat a physical dependence is to stop using an addictive substance and to go through withdrawal. This can be a sobering experience in more ways than one, which is why it’s important that the client is committed to treatment and has a strong support system in place.
There are two primary methods used to beat dependency on a drug or alcohol. These two forms are tapering and medication-assisted treatment.
Tapering is the first method that can help someone stop using an addictive substance without the serious symptoms of withdrawal they would see if they quit cold turkey. Tapering programs vary, but most of them have the patient take the drug, if legal, at lower dosages over time. As they decrease gradually, they may have minor withdrawal symptoms but be able to get through them without relapsing to higher doses.
Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)
Medication-assisted treatment is another treatment option. Some MAT programs place individuals on long-term support medications, while others only use supportive medications through the worst of the withdrawal period. Our addiction specialists will determine the program that works best for the patient based on:
- The type of drugs/substances they’re using
- Whether it’s safe to switch them to a MAT plan
- Whether they have a high risk of relapsing
- Whether they wish to use medications to assist them during recovery
Break the Cycle of Addiction and Physical Dependence at Sunflower Wellness Retreat
It is normal to need support to break a physical dependency or addiction. At Sunflower Wellness Retreat, we have a supportive team to guide you throughout your recovery. Contact us online or call us today at 855.730.8825 to learn more about your treatment options. There is support to help you with substance abuse concerns during addiction recovery.