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The Psychology of Addiction: Physical, Mental, Emotional

The Psychology of Addiction - The Bergand Group

We’ve talked before about the need for increased education and awareness when it comes to addiction, but what about a conversation surrounding the psychology of addiction, specifically? Discovering which aspects of struggling with substance abuse are physical versus mental is one of the first steps toward better understanding what you or a loved one are going through and how best to seek treatment.

How to Approach the Psychology of Addiction

“When someone is physically addicted, the body… cellularly craves some substance such as alcohol or drugs. The addicted person will then suffer some severe physical withdrawal symptoms… With a psychological addiction… the person does not experience physical withdrawal pain when denied, but emotional pain.” The difference seems simple enough to understand, but it is key in gaining a more complete notion of understanding one’s own (or someone else’s) experience with addiction.

Physical addiction is said to travel through the body more quickly than its psychological counterpart. Like a physical sickness, it comes and goes through a person’s system with time and other factors. Also, while physical addiction begins as a result of a physical substance, i.e. drugs and alcohol, psychological addiction can be based in an activity, behavior, or hobby that the person does compulsively to the point of it acting as an addiction. Also, it’s possible to have a psychological addiction without a physical one, but a physical addiction always has some element of the psychological to it.

The psychology of addiction suggests that it “falls into two categories” which are referred to as “Pleasure Seeking Addiction and Pain Avoidance Addiction.” They’re easy enough in concept to understand, but exploring both can help to gain a more thorough understanding of what the individual is experiencing in their own addiction process.

The first category, in which the patient’s addiction begins as a result of an activity that affords them positive feelings, is often tied to use of drugs, such as cocaine, and behaviors, such as gambling. The individuals aren’t able to pass up opportunities to experience those feelings again and thus seek out the drug or behavior constantly. Where others might be able to utilize restraint so as not to indulge in excess, those who are addicted can’t do the same. They often put searching for that “thrill” above all else to the detriment of their health and other things.

The second, in which the individual wishes to avoid negative feelings, often begins with an experience of one of those feelings, such as great anxiety. Understandably, he or she doesn’t want to experience that again if they can help it, and thus they turn to substances that can aid in that endeavor. Drugs and alcohol seem to offers relief in these times, but the person usually reacts with some level of self-loathing in reaction to their having “given in” to the vice. As such, this cycle continues.

Whether it involves the physical, mental, or emotional, the psychology of addiction is being increasingly fleshed out by professionals who want to better aid their patients. A more comprehensive grasp of the different origins and cycles of addiction can help to better address these complicated issues to more quickly and effectively provide care.

The ways to begin approaching your own addiction, if you think you may have one, is to accept that there is a problem that you want and need to address. Don’t beat yourself down as this will only fuel the fire of negative emotions. Seek support and professional help to guide you along the way: get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center, and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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