Physical and Psychological Drug Withdrawal

This article is by Soledad House


It’s a common misconception that all drug withdrawal is the same. In fact, did you know that there are physical and psychological addictions? Each requires its own set of treatments for a lasting recovery.

Drug Withdrawal Associated with a Physical Addiction

Most everyone can relate to the physical withdrawal symptoms of caffeine. Whether you drink coffee or soda, missing your typical dose results in withdrawal. Your body responds to the lack of caffeine with headaches and sluggishness. Of course, this drug is relatively harmless.

However, it makes the point that your body reacts to the absence of a substance. When you try to stop drinking alcohol or using heroin or other drugs, you may experience something similar. The reason behind drug withdrawal is similar. Your body has forgotten how to function without the drug or alcohol. As a result, when you stop drinking or using the substance, your mind is left playing catch-up. Unfortunately, these withdrawal symptoms are stronger and potentially dangerous. Examples may include seizures, delirium tremens (DTs), and spikes in heart rate.

Psychological Withdrawal from a Drug

Strong cravings combine with the powerful draws of daily habits to have a negative effect on your life. Your thoughts revolve around getting the next fix and using drugs or drinking. Everything you do reminds you of using. Even if you’re strongly motivated to quit, you can’t stop imagining having just one more dose.

What happens to create this feeling is the formation of a positive association. You took a drug, and it felt good. When you do this often enough, you create a powerful positive reinforcement. This memory stays intact even when the drug’s negative aspects outweigh feelings of pleasure.

Getting Help for Both Aspects of Addiction

Seeking out professional addiction treatment is your best option for sustainable sobriety. Recovery starts with detoxification at a medically supervised center. There, compassionate staff members help you stop using drugs or alcohol safely and in relative comfort. Breaking the physical addiction prepares you for overcoming the psychological aspects.

To overcome a psychological addiction, a rehab facility is the next stop. Therapists at an addiction rehab clinic like Soledad House provide you with a variety of modalities to discover why you use. Below are a few examples:

  • Psychotherapy helps you discover your reasons for thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Trauma therapy lets you deal with unresolved issues from the past, which may still influence your current actions.
  • Dual diagnosis treatment allows you to heal from a mental health condition as well as an addiction.
  • Group therapy creates the setting for positive interactions with others.
  • 12 Step meetings provide the vehicle for personal accountability, as well as, group interactivity to create a support network.

Can I Quit at Home?

In a word: no. If you have a physical addiction to any substance, you may suffer from serious drug withdrawal symptoms. Having medical professionals on standby is your safest bet. For the psychological withdrawal, you need help building a life that doesn’t include using. With the help of our women’s treatment program at Soledad House, we can provide the assistance you need to rid your life of drugs or alcohol. Our addiction treatment programs include:

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