Mental Versus Physical Addiction: Understanding Addiction is the First Step to Ending it.

Mental Versus Physical Addiction

When you’re trapped in the grip of drug or alcohol addiction

It can be a very scary and confusing place. You may feel panicky, irritated, afraid and often way out of control. You probably will be experiencing whole host of emotions that make you uncomfortable, and it seems the only answer is taking or drinking more.

When you are struggling with addiction, it can become a very isolated experience — particularly when you’re dealing with both psychological and physical problems from drug or alcohol addiction.


Addiction is a multi-faceted and complex disease.

physical addictionSubstance abuse is often a difficult path and physical and psychological addiction can often happen simultaneously. It is so imperative for you to be able to recognise and tell the difference between the two that’s where a decent drug rehab program will help. Often the term “addiction” is oversimplified, but in reality there are many types of addiction that often lay on a spectrum. One of the most important distinctions to make when considering addiction is whether the addiction is physical, psychological or a combination of both.

Physical addiction happens when your body develops dependency on a substance or drug. This dependency means that the cells of your body fail to function without it. This failure to function is reflected in withdrawal symptoms including headaches, vomiting or nausea. These symptoms are the body’s way of urging the addicted individual to use again to return to a functioning state.

Physical addiction causes pain that can often only be abated by another dose or another drink. Some drugs are said to be less physically addictive than others. For instance, ecstasy is less physically addictive for many compared to heroin or meth. Physical addiction is often treated through a process of detoxification.

Detoxification is a slow and gradual process. Often, physically addicted individuals cannot stop using cold turkey. Houghton House can help addicts create a program that slowly decreases usage so that they don’t feel withdrawal symptoms as strongly. Sometimes, other drugs are even used in substitution for stronger drugs.

Psychological addiction functions more in the mind of the addicted individual. Psychological addicts from all walks of life are consumed with thoughts of the next dose, drink or hit. Physical addiction is more intertwined with ideas of compulsion and desire. It is the feeling of not being able to live without something.


Symptoms of Physical Addiction

Substance abuse should never be ignored and is a very serious issue if you’re physically addicted. If you’re concerned that you might be physically addicted, there are some physical warning marks to look out for:

  1. Memory loss
  2. Body aches
  3. Irritability
  4. Headaches
  5. Seizures
  6. Nausea
  7. Blackouts
  8. Depression
  9. Tremors and shaking
  10. Restless legs
  11. Mood swings
  12. Vomiting
  13. Disorientation
  14. Shortness of breath
  15. Dry mouth
  16. Constricted pupils
  17. Pulse rate changes
  18. Blood pressure changes

Symptoms of Psychological Addiction

The indicators of psychological addiction can be very powerful and incapacitating. They include:

  1. Powerful substance desires
  2. Disavowal of responsibility
  3. Helplessness to imagine managing without the substance
  4. Appetite loss
  5. Sensation  of restless/agitation when you can’t use the substance
  6. Being emotionally preoccupied with getting more of the
  7. Apprehension when being unable to get the drug
  8. Sleeplessness that is related to not being able to use
  9. Desire that appears intermittently, even years after stopping the substance of abuse
  10. Mood changes

Often, detoxification doesn’t work fully for psychological addictions.

rehabilitation centres in Gauteng physical addictionThe mind overpowers the body and the desire for another dose or drink is still there. Many doctors and therapists consider drug or alcohol rehab a more important step for those who are psychologically addicted. These programs allow recovering addicts to create and allow another way of thinking.

Skills and coping mechanisms that are cognitive are necessary for overcoming a psychological addiction. These tools are those that Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres supplies for patients.

However, it is important to note that psychological and physical addictions can often be tangled into each other. It is sometimes difficult for addicts to make distinctions between physical and mental needs.


Houghton House help addicts learn the exact type of addictions they are dealing with and thus how to successfully treat them. Understanding addiction is the first step to ending it.

Learn more about Houghton House Group of Treatment Centres and the efforts we’ve taken to become a premier addiction treatment centre of choice and how we can help you reclaim your health and your life from addiction.


For more information on dealing with alcohol or  substance abuse and getting yourself into rehab to start a new life, call Houghton House now:

office hours:  011 787 9142

24/7 emergency help line: 079 770 7532

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