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Physical Dependency

Physical Dependency and Addiction

The terms “physical dependency” and “addiction” tend to be used interchangeably, although the word “addiction” also covers psychological dependency as well. To say that a person has become physically dependent on alcohol or drugs means that their body has changed in response to the use of these substances. The two classic signs of physical dependency would be increased tolerance for the substance, and the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms should the person try to stop or reduce their intake of the substance.

Physical Dependency and Tolerance

To say that people have developed a tolerance for alcohol or drugs means that they now need to take more of the substance in order to get the same effect as they would previously have gotten from a smaller dose. An example of this would be the alcoholic who is able to tolerate larger quantities of alcohol over time. Some alcoholics will even develop the ability to drink industrial strength alcohol and have their blood alcohol content (BAC) reach levels that would kill other people. The reason for why people develop tolerance is that their body is working hard to adapt to the presence of alcohol in the system. The real danger of tolerance is that the individual is doing increasing levels of damage to their body and mind because of the increased intake.

Physical Dependency and Withdrawal Symptoms

The other classic sign that a person had developed a physical dependence on alcohol is that they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they try to reduce their intake or stop. These uncomfortable symptoms occur because the body has learned how to cope with the toxin in the body as best it can, and when it is removed, the body has to learn how to readapt. It is this process of learning how to function without the alcohol that is the cause of many of the withdrawal symptoms, which can include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Body aches and flu like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Body shakes and tremors
  • Body weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Heart palpitations
  • A feeling of being tense
  • Inability to concentrate
  • The individual may feel “jumpy” – they are easily startled
  • Hallucinations
  • Fever
  • Changes to pulse and blood pressure
  • Unable to sit still

If people have been drinking or using drugs for a long time then they may be at risk of developing a particularly severe form of withdrawals known as delirium tremens (DTs). These symptoms can be potentially life threatening and include:

  • Seizures and convulsions
  • Dangerously high blood pressure levels
  • Intense hallucinations

Those individuals who are at risk of developing DTs need to have their withdrawal symptoms medically supervised, so they can be kept safe.

Physical Dependency and the Need for Lifelong Abstinence

Once the individual has developed a physical dependency on alcohol or drugs it will not be possible for them to use this substance safely again in the future. This is because the body has changed in how it reacts to these substances, and even if the individual manages to stay sober for decades, they will be back where they started as soon as they pick up. The nature of addiction means that the person’s life will deteriorate over time, and the only way to escape this downward spiral is to choose lifelong abstinence. It is the only real choice for those who want to avoid the suffering associated with this condition.

Physical Dependency and Psychological Dependency

Those individuals who are physically dependent on alcohol or drugs will also usually be psychologically dependent as well. There can be a crossover in the symptoms associated with each of these, but the two that are most associated with psychological dependence would be cravings and the feeling of being unable to cope without the substance. When the person tries to give up alcohol or drugs, it will be a combination of physical as well as psychological withdrawals that make the process so difficult.

The Need for Detox

If people have become physically addicted to alcohol or drugs, they will experience withdrawal symptoms should they try to stop. These symptoms are rarely worse than mild flu like symptoms, but they can be made to feel worse because the individual knows that they can stop them at any time by giving in to cravings. Some people do manage to make it through withdrawals alone, but there are good reasons to choose a proper supervised detox. It will increase the likelihood that the person will make it through this period, and there will be treatments available to ease the process. Those individuals who are at any risk of developing the DTs will certainly want to go through a medically supervised detox so that they are kept safe.

We Will Help You Break Away From Physical Dependence

Our team has a great deal of expertise in regards to addiction treatment plans and rehab/detox placement. Many of our team members have their own personal stories with addiction, so they will have a good understanding of what you are going through. When you contact us, you will not be under any obligation to do anything, but if you do decide that you have had enough of physical dependence we will be able to help you escape from this suffering.

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