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Whats the difference between chemical and psychological addiction?

Discussion in 'Withdrawal Symptoms' started by RakeMind4, Oct 3, 2014.

  1. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    I've been lucky enough in my life that the major "addictions" that I've had have been habitual. And while it's been a really rough and destructive ride for me, I have only seen from third person what it's like to go through heroin addiction, or any of the other, serious addictions where you can die in withdrawal.

    Can someone who's had experience with both behavioral and chemical addictions share perspective on this?
    Joseph likes this.
  2. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Hi RakeMind4,
    I've taken medications known to cause physical dependence in recovery and can say without a doubt the difference between this and my addiction is like night and day. So while my body adjusted to and eventually came to rely on the medication (requiring doctors to wean me off of it to avoid withdrawal symptoms), it was a much different experience than withdrawal from my drug of choice. The biggest difference was whether or not I mentally obsessed over the substance long after removing it from my body.
  3. vennybunny

    vennybunny Member

    In my opinion, psychological addiction, in a lot of cases, is physical addiction, in some aspect. A lot of the aftereffects of drugs are caused by neurotransmitter imbalances in your brain. Some of these changes are even permanent. Even with years off the drug, your brain will never go back to how it was before. And I think it's important to understand that there is a physical aspect to even long term addiction, because it may help to understand why people relapse, and it isn't just all about willpower.
  4. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    I'm not following you man. So your addiction was a psychological addiction? Like gambling, you know? How can you have withdrawal symptoms from gambling? And also, can't you also be mentally obsessed with a physical addiction like heroin? Your post implies that you didn't have a mental obsession with the stuff you got from the doctors, but that would purely be a personal situation.

    Sure mate. Like with porn or cigarettes or coffee: there is a physiological aspect to the addiction or habit, but it's still not the same as heroin, alcohol, or cocaine. You see what I'm saying?

    Yea, that's one of the reasons why physical addiction is so hard.

    And I mean, yea, you can say that applies to both the softer and the harder drugs, but when you're coming off of a pot addiction (it even almost sounds laughable to call it an addiction; I mean, not to shoot anybody down but to me, as someone who's had several significant non-physical addictions in my life: that's just a character flaw mate, like my grandparents always told me), it's not like you need to go to the hospital, you know? You're just going to be in a ripe **** mood for a few days, and might feel like crap. But that's not actual withdrawal, you know?
  5. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    To sum it up: I believe it's possible to be dependent on any substance known to cause dependence. There are plenty of medications a doctor may have to wean a patient off of. If I take Prozac daily for years and abruptly stop taking it, I'm probably going to experience some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If I boot heroin daily for years and abruptly stop, the same rule applies - only the difference here is I'm going to obsess over it until one of two things happen; I relapse or I begin the recovery process. I would consider gambling/sex/eating disorders behavioral addictions if I'm willing to compromise my health/safety/lifestyle/freedom/etc to continue the behavior. I doubt if I stopped any of these behaviors I'd have physical withdrawal symptoms presenting themselves as "dope sickness", but I imagine I'd have some depression and anxiety to deal with. I believe the emotional recovery process that follows is the same.
    vennybunny likes this.
  6. Charli

    Charli Community Champion

    I think chemical addiction is much more physical in its nature in terms of your body reacting to the lack of stimulants it used to get and now depend on, so when you cut off the supply then your body goes haywire which probably would make you uncomfortable and therefore make you more likely to seek the external stimulant again. Psychological addiction is probably just your own mind telling you you need it for one reason or another regardless if your body craves it or not.
  7. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    You're a riot man. A living encyclopedia, like I said. It's cool though.

    Hey, get this though. There's this thing. I remember talking to that friend I talked about, and one of the things he said was that you couldn't advance to level two of rehab until you admitted that you had a problem and needed help. Lol, in myself I was like "oh **** I'd be there for awhile." Lol, in my life I've been really stubborn about things like that, when it comes to matters of pride and stuff. Because I'd make a big scene about not being able to do it on my own, you know? Like, I'd want to prove that, despite the evidence, I could've.

    But hey, I was just talking to this bum the other day, and he told me that, if you can believe this, there was a point in his life where he was drinking a half gallon whiskey a day, daily, for four years. He kept this up until, he said, one day he woke up and his bed was full of blood. He said he went to the toilet repeatedly and just kept shitting out blood, and that he doesn't know how he lived because he lost so, so much blood that day. But that was also the day he decided to quit whiskey.

    I asked him about withdrawal, and he said that nothing like that happened to him. I mean, you'd expect him (and I specifically asked him) to have had hallucinations or something, and he said that didn't happen to him. He just, like, gradually quit drinking it altogether, and replaced it with beer. (Also, as a side note: after he'd told his story, I marveled at his having the ability to do that, and despite what I just said about pride, I also told him that I wouldn't have been able to just quit like that). So what's your take on this? Can you be a hardcore alchie and not have withdrawal?

    I'd like to experience that level of addiction someday (knock on wood), just to know what it's like. If only it wouldn't cost me my life to do it!
  8. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Obviously a half gallon of whiskey is pretty extreme, but he said he substituted it with beer. Probably enough beer to keep what would have been withdrawal symptoms under control after a "sobering moment" (but not really sobering, just enough to consume less alcohol). The body doesn't say "Wait a minute....THIS ISN'T WHISKEY!" and start freaking out. More like "Okay - I'm not happy with less alcohol but I guess it's better than nothing."

    Take heroin overdose, for example. Many heroin addicts (myself included) reach a point in their abuse where they have to decide whether they want to live or die. Addicted or not, our natural instinct is to want to preserve our own lives. Whether we still continue to do a drug we know puts it at risk of another overdose or not, when we're brought back to life in an ambulance we remember how much we did, in what period of time, who we bought it from, what it looked like, etc.
  9. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    And we are the lucky ones. Not everybody gets a chance to reconsider the amount they're doing and adjust what they put in their veins moving forward. The same would apply to the bleeding alcoholic drinking beer instead of whiskey. It's just a slower death that doesn't set off the "fight to survive" alarm it should in our addict brains.
  10. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    Yea, he said that, when he started drinking beer, he would, after a beer or two, start to, like, really want to have whiskey again, but that he would remember how he almost died, and somehow soldiered through it. Next time I see him I'll have to ask him in more detail how he pushed through that particular urge to go back to drinking whiskey. Actually, at a later point in the conversation, he did talk about that general subject. He said that most people will start to fixate on how bad they want it, when what you should do is go do something else. Pretty keen. Ashame he's doing alot of meth these days though!

    Sounds like a blast, but I'm not following you here mate. You remember what now?
    Joseph likes this.
  11. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Extreme physical consequences of drug abuse. I'm comparing the man waking up in his own pool of blood to a heroin addict waking up in an ambulance after an overdose. These should be "sobering" events, and they are for some but it clearly wasn't sobering enough to make the whiskey drinker stop drinking alcohol and wasn't enough to get me to stop doing heroin, either. This is just an example of the insanity. We realize "oh no, I don't want to die - I need to slow down" or "I need to switch to beer". Unfortunately I can't really applaud the whiskey drinker for accomplishing anything in your story because everybody instinctually wants to live (this is why it's not uncommon for people to break their own fingernails off trying to loosen the rope after choosing to hang themselves). Make sense now?
    Joseph and Askani like this.
  12. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Slowing down and doing less heroin or drinking beer instead of whiskey is how we lie to ourselves after a very close call. "I don't want to die, so I'm going to change." But all we're doing is killing ourselves slowly. We have this sick idea we are in control but we never are, because the most basic of all reactions should be to never touch it again. That is what addiction does to us.
  13. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    Imagine putting your hand on a hot stove. Immediately you're going to pull it away.

    The addict or alcoholic does the same, but immediately after pulling their hand off the stove they tell themselves "it won't burn me if I just put a couple fingers on it".
    Zyni likes this.
  14. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    Ohhhhhh. Okay. Alright, I get what you're saying. Getting a tad bit philosophical if you catch my drift, but only barely and not really. Hey, an admirable point broksi. Quite interesting.

    Kek, that's dark bruh.

    Yea, I was disappointed and surprised to hear that he was doing as much meth as he was. So I can't disagree with you here. Although, to him, I guess meth is no different from booze or anything else. Just another drug, with risks that you have to tiptoe around and plan for. What's weird about this guy is that he's still sentient, responsive, and clued in to me when I'm talking with him. He's quite sane. That's really unusual, in my experience, for people who are doing meth. The last guy I talked to who was walking in that alley was out of touch, right? Like, the expression is "he wasn't all there."

    I remember I was running down a dirt path to find him. I'd accidentally kept a cord he needed to charge up an MP3 player he'd found. When I caught up with him, he was standing off to the side of the path, in some bushes. He thanked me for returning the cord (not seeming to really entirely connect what it was for), and then told me he was hiding, because the simultaneous appearance of a man who'd just passed him on the path, and a plane flying overhead, had caused him to feel nervous, like people were looking for him. It was weird.
    Joseph likes this.
  15. Jen S.

    Jen S. Guest

    LOL Sorry. It was the best example I could come up with (fingernails).
    This article does a good job of explaining the relationship between methamphetamine use, paranoia and violence.
  16. OhioTom76

    OhioTom76 Senior Contributor

    Withdrawal from Alcohol - I've had numerous seizures, one of them a Grand Mal seizure and I also went into cardiac arrest at the same time, and was in the hospital for three days. Not to mention I hit my head pretty hard each time - one time I was in Costco in the freezer section and fell into a door handle, my head looked like a Conehead for a week. I also have extreme insomnia when I stop drinking and will literally stay awake for days before finally crashing for a few hours. I'm also generally more depressed and short tempered the day after a long night of heavy drinking. Other withdrawal symptoms I suppose would be heavy sweating all the time (since your body is trying to flush out the toxins), but this also happens when you quit smoking too. Oh, and the B/O that comes along with it, so be prepared to shower very often.

    Cocaine Withdrawal - It's been a while but from what I recall, basically every day I wasn't doing it was just an interlude to the next time I got more and partied again. I was a zombie on the days I wasn't doing it, would lose interest in everything, and feel irrationally depressed and paranoid all the time. I was buying it typically every other day, usually around $80-$120 worth at a time. Every little joke or comment would set me off, I had no sense of humor what so ever, when I was coming down off of it. I would often spend most of the days when I was coming down, trying to sleep off the withdrawal symptoms, especially on weekends. But on weekdays I would just flat out skip classes or call off work so I could stay in bed, since I was so drained from being up the entire night before.
  17. RakeMind4

    RakeMind4 Active Contributor

    Now this is what I'm looking for. How extreme. As someone who's only experienced psychological "addictions" in my life (and relatively extreme ones at that) physical addiction is something that fascinates me. I can't imagine how it could have been any worse than I experienced it, but apparently it happens.

    It sounds like you were physically addicted to cocaine and alcohol at independent times. Is this true? Which one would you say is more addictive, or more "itchy," if that's the right word. And which one was more painful? How can it come on just all of a sudden, that you wouldn't see it coming while you were at Costco? (distracted by the great deals?)