The Difference Between Mental Addiction and Physical Addiction

There are Two Main Types of Addiction and Dependence

Oftentimes, people simply put addiction and substance abuse under one umbrella: addiction. But did you know that an individual can actually suffer from an addiction on a psychological level, a physical level, or both? Addiction is a very tricky disease and for some, it is more of a mental addiction while others have more of a bodily addiction. Let’s take a look at some of the differences between these.

Physical Dependence: Having a physical dependence on drugs or alcohol means that you experience physical symptoms when you do not take the drug. This is called withdrawal. Some common withdrawal symptoms are nausea, fever, the chills, and delirium tremens, among others. Substances that will give you a physical dependence are caffeine, meth, and heroin. The withdrawal from caffeine is much less severe than withdrawal from methamphetamine or heroin.

Psychological Dependence: Having a psychological dependence on a substance relates to the compulsion to use and it is more of an emotional addiction. These individuals may not show signs of physical addiction simply by looking at them. The most common type of psychological addiction is an addiction to marijuana. Marijuana does not have physically addictive qualities but it does make the individual have a mental need and urge for it. This, in turn, can affect the everyday lives of the individual such as interfere with their job and their relationships.

Addiction and the Brain

Addiction to drugs or alcohol has a huge effect on the brain and can even have long-lasting repercussions. Prolonged drug and alcohol abuse can alter the areas of the brain that are responsible for critical thinking and judgment, hindering the individual’s ability to think in a level-headed fashion.

When an individual abuses substances, they feel a sense of pleasure and euphoria which is why they continue to use. This is a feeling that they will continue to desire which is why addiction is such a chronic disease. It’s important that you seek help for your addiction now as it will continue to worsen the longer that you wait.

Seeking treatment is the safest method of overcoming your addiction to drugs or alcohol. Depending on the severity of your addiction, you may be required to go through a period of medical detox.

The Medical Detox Process

Those who experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms will go through a period of medical detox. This is the process where the body is slowly and safely weaned off of the substance of abuse in a controlled environment which is monitored on an around-the-clock basis. It is advised that you never detox alone or simply go cold turkey as this is very dangerous and can be detrimental to your health. Get in touch with a treatment facility that can help you safely and effectively overcome your addiction.

Depending on the severity of your addiction, a unique treatment program will be advised for you. Holistic treatment for addiction has proven to be very beneficial and utilizes unique forms of therapy in order to help you made a full recovery.

It’s important to remember that the process of addiction is one that takes time and patience. Recovery does not happen overnight and, in fact, recovery is a life-long process; you will constantly have to work on maintaining your sobriety. This is because addiction is a chronic and relapsing disease that has the potential to creep back into your life if you do not take proper care.


If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.