Physical dependence is related to the frequent use of addictive substances and the implementation of activities that generate similar effects. The first case is the most common, where we observe that patients suffer drastic changes in their health. Likewise, the quality of life and psychological stability are compromised by the compulsive and continuous use of these substances.

It usually begins out of curiosity or experimentation, sometimes it has a recreational or recreational purpose. Likewise, patients are vulnerable and prone to adopt any alternative that allows them to alleviate problems and symptoms. Consequently, its continued consumption contributes to the eventual development of a dependency.

It is normal for confusion to arise regarding what is dependence and an addiction. First of all, the dependency must be created and adopted and then develop what is properly an addiction. One is the consequence of another. This means that the patient must first create a relationship based on seeking and continuous consumption . Later this practice is classified as obsessive.

What is physical dependence? 

Physical dependence defines a state of neuroadaptation , characterized by the development of a particular addiction that provides satisfaction. In a much broader sense, it encompasses all those elements that can generate addiction. That is why it is normal to associate physical dependence with chemical dependence, the latter has a direct connection with drug use.

As with other types of dependencies, in this case it is observed that the patient creates a bond with what satisfies him and is difficult to break. Consequently, a learned or adopted need develops , it will determine or limit the life of the patient. Eventually it becomes difficult to lead a normal life without including such dependency.

A dependency conditions the daily activities of the patient , its main objective is to ensure that the link is maintained. It is associated with psychological dependence, both are combined in situations where there is drug dependence.

What are their characteristics? 

As in other types of dependencies, in this case the classic characteristics of this condition are observed. In each of the typologies, common symptoms can be identified, mainly the uncontrollable need to consume or have access to that to which an attachment has developed. It is a condition that will cause drastic changes in habitual behavior.

The symptoms have the peculiarity of changing according to the type of substance and its effects. This is the case of those who are dependent on psychoactive substances, each system reacts in a different way . Likewise, the time of consumption and the doses administered must be taken into account, the latter being a determining factor.

This is how a physiological dependence in the tissue develops for life, it will respond to the psychoactive substance consumed. A cellular adaptation is described , the body will no longer be able to continue to function as it normally did. To “survive” it must have the constant presence of this substance in the blood and other tissues.

Examples of this type are found in therapeutic drugs such as benzodiazepines and antiepileptics. The effects of these substances diminish with their habitual consumption, with which the increase of the doses will be able to generate the desired effects; but with a higher risk of side effects.

The nervous system is sensitive to physiological adaptations of chemical origin. Even the practice of some activities that generate an increase in the production of substances such as hormones is included in this category. Suddenly stopping its use will lower levels in the system, causing changes in performance, behavior and mood.

An example is the practice of certain high-risk sports or exercises. The increase in endorphins generates general well-being, the cessation of its effects creates anxiety as well as cardiological changes. Its effects on the brain organ creates a crisis that lasts until producing psychological changes such as insomnia, irritability and confusion.

The most common symptoms are described below:

  • Difficulty controlling the use of substances such as alcohol or drugs. There is an extensive list of substances that they possess and intense effects that provide satisfaction and in turn addiction.
  • Constant and obsessive desire to seek, access and consume substances for which a dependency has already been created.
  • The patient becomes obsessed in his quest to consume, so he will stop participating and continue with his interests and objectives. For example, you are absent from social and family activities.
  • The patient is aware of the detrimental effects that his dependence causes on his health. However, he is unable to control his desires and maintains persistence in consumption.
  • When you try to set limits to stop using, you begin to suffer the effects of withdrawal symptoms . It is recognized by anxiety, physical pain, confusion, weakness, tiredness, and mood swings.

What are its limits? 

In physical dependence, all the behaviors adopted will have a direct effect on physical and psychological health. It is also important to note that you do not necessarily have to suffer from an addiction to develop a dependency, both are independent concepts.

It is observed that patients undergo changes in the usual functioning of their brains, specifically in their structure. In this way, he ends up getting used to the consumption of certain substances or carrying out certain activities. These same individuals may find that they can only function under their influence in their system.

Also, the more it is consumed or used and eventually the greater tolerance develops . The projection for the future is to suffer an imbalance and lack of control that makes them more prone to increase the doses. The purpose is to replicate the effects that these cause at the beginning, however it becomes a much more complicated task. When consumption or access is interrupted, the withdrawal syndrome appears.

What to do if I am physically dependent? 

To start the treatment, the first step consists of an evaluation of the general psychophysical state. Depending on the type of dependency that has developed and the resulting addiction, the most appropriate detoxification program is subsequently chosen. The goal is to clean the entire system of the substance to regain balance.

In some cases it becomes difficult to avoid suffering from withdrawal syndrome. Usually the most advisable thing is to treat the patient under strict hospital conditions, this means that there must be constant professional medical supervision. Each phase of initial treatment is monitored to see how the patient’s condition evolves, and symptoms of possible withdrawal are prevented.

It is very important that the detoxification provides the expected results, so the immune system and the nervous system will regain their normality. Recovery from physical dependence depends entirely on the success of this step, to which the patient must respond positively in order to continue. The next step will be to eliminate the psychological addiction.

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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