woman sitting on wall deals with psychological dependencePsychological Dependence on Alcohol 

The psychological dependence on drugs or alcohol is the primary reason why people have such a hard time staying sober. Many people believe going to a detox facility and kicking the physical habit is enough to stay sober. 

However, physical dependence is only a small part of the recovery process, meant to prepare a foundation for recovery. Alcohol and drug treatment programs help to overcome your mental dependence through intensive therapy.

First, it’s important to understand how psychological dependence on a substance develops and how severe it can be. Knowing about what’s happening in your brain and why you continue to use will help you accept your illness. Once you accept this fact, the willingness to take suggestions gets much easier, and you can begin to recover. Through different types of addiction therapy, you can learn how to live an incredible life without any type of psychological dependence on alcohol.

How Does Psychological Dependence Develop?

Essentially, every species of animal has a pleasure-reward system brain for survival. This helps us survive by remembering where to find food when we’re hungry or water when we’re thirsty. Every time we repeat this action, the brain stores memory, and the habit gets stronger and stronger. 

This cycle is called the “habit loop,” and it breaks down into three different moments:

  • Trigger
  • Behavior
  • Reward

Let’s use food as an example, the trigger is hunger, the behavior is eating, and the reward is that the hunger goes away. The same thing happens when someone begins using drugs or alcohol. The difference is that there’s a significantly larger flow of dopamine.

Eventually, the brain realizes that drugs can curb a negative emotion. Once this happens, any time an individual with an addiction experiences something negative, the brain tells them to use the substance. This is where psychological dependence on alcohol comes into play. 

Why Early Recovery is Difficult

The habit gets stronger each time you avert to alcohol when experiencing a negative emotion. This habit eventually turns into an addiction, defined by continually doing something despite the ongoing negative consequences. 

Due to your psychological dependence on alcohol, the brain keeps telling you that this is the only way to feel well. The longer you spend in this cycle, the harder it can be for your brain to break this habit.

Since many people develop strong addictions over time, inpatient treatment is often necessary. The structure and support in an inpatient setting give patients the accountability they need to break this psychological dependence on alcohol. Sadly, many people relapse when they try an outpatient or IOP first. 

Because dependency causes such a strong compulsion to use; a strong sense of accountability and structure is crucial in treatment. Inpatient treatment creates an environment where learning to stay sober is a skill that’s gradually being sharpened. It’s not an overnight process. 

Working With Co-Occurring Disorders

Dual diagnosis treatment is necessary to treat co-occurring disorders. A co-occurring disorder simply means that an individual has a mental illness as well as an addiction. For some people, the trigger to begin using drugs or alcohol was a symptom of mental illness like anxiety, depression, ADHD, or PTSD. 

For others, the addiction created mental illness. Either way, the best thing for someone with a co-occurring condition is to attend a facility that treats both simultaneously.

Psychological dependence on alcohol is a sign of co-occurring disorders taking place. This means that there are underlying roots to the problem that must be addressed — recognizing the “why” behind your actions is a crucial part of recovery.

Symptoms of Co-Occurring Disorders

Those symptoms include:

  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Dramatic changes in behavior
  • Difficulty managing daily tasks
  • Reckless behavior
  • Neglecting health and hygiene
  • Using substances under unsafe conditions
  • Developing a high tolerance to a substance or withdrawal symptoms
  • Feeling the need to use substances daily

Psychological dependence on alcohol implies that your body and brain have become dependent on the substance. This dependency almost always leads to co-occurring disorders. Recognizing the symptoms allows you to start recovery and stop addiction in its tracks. Although each person and situation is unique, some symptoms are experienced by most addicts. 

Mental Disorders that Co-Occur with Alcohol Addiction

The most common co-occurring disorders with substance abuse fall into five categories:

  1. Mood disorders
  2. Anxiety disorders
  3. Psychotic disorders
  4. Personality disorders
  5. Eating disorders

Alcohol addiction is no easy obstacle to overcome. It is important to understand that addiction is a disease. Once your brain and body become dependent, outside help is crucial in recovering. When it comes to alcohol addiction, it can affect your behavior and emotions in a variety of negative ways.

The psychological dependence messes with your head. However, there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. This dependence can be conquered through the right resources and treatment. 

Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders

Recovery for co-occurring disorders requires getting to the root of the problem. Therapy is a key component in treatment to put the control back in the patient’s hands. Our treatment program offers a variety of resources for psychological dependence on alcohol within the overall treatment plan.

Psychological dependence on alcohol can interfere with anybody’s daily functioning. It’s a painful internal battle that we must understand to help our patients. The need for alcohol and its temporary effects is far more deeply rooted than merely enjoying getting drunk.

  • Residential treatment programs. Otherwise known as inpatient rehab, residential treatment programs provide around-the-clock care for patients. When experiencing psychological dependence on alcohol, this can be a huge help. Patients are removed from an environment with harmful triggers. Instead, they reside in a sober and supportive community.
  • Outpatient treatment options. Do you have serious obligations you must attend every day? Do you have a job or perhaps a child that needs taking care of? Outpatient rehab allows individuals to live at home, yet still benefit from our facility’s resources. Patients will travel to our center for weekly sessions based on their treatment plan. 
  • Individual therapy. Therapy is the most helpful component of a treatment plan when it comes to psychological dependence on alcohol. Individual therapy for co-occurring disorders focuses on building motivation, identifying self-defeating thoughts, and learning positive new behaviors.

What We Offer

Our goal is to give you the tools you need for long-lasting sobriety and healthy behavior. A fulfilling and purpose-driven life means being honest with how you feel. That honesty then leads to finding effective solutions that work for your unique circumstances. 

  • Medical care. Psychotherapeutic medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, and anti-anxiety drugs, are often prescribed as part of a co-occurring disorder treatment program. If prescribed, the patient is closely monitored to ensure safety and proper use. 
  • Peer support groups. Those with a psychological dependence on alcohol can also suffer from feelings of isolation. They may feel like no one understands what they’re going through, and that they’re in this alone. Peer support groups provide support for those with a psychological dependence on alcohol. It’s a motivating and empathetic community where you give and get support.

Supporting You During and After Treatment

Peer support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) connect people that are going through similar obstacles.

  • Support for families. Supporting a loved one with a mental illness and a substance abuse problem can be very painful. Support groups for families, as well as our facility’s therapists, offer resources to alleviate this pain. If you are a patient’s loved one, education and support can make all the difference. You and your loved ones are not alone. 
  • Holistic care. Alternative therapies are a great supplement to a treatment program. At 1st Step, we aim to treat the person as a whole rather than just the disease. Acupuncture, massage, music therapy, and yoga are a handful of the many resources we offer. Allowing yourself to relax and incorporate a more natural approach is very beneficial to any treatment plan at our center. 
  • Ongoing support after rehab. After you’ve completed a treatment program with us, the recovery journey continues. We offer comprehensive aftercare services such as counselors, support groups, sober living homes, and many others. Support after rehab encourages our patients to continue on the path to long-lasting sobriety.

Seek Help Today and Call 1st Step Behavioral Health 

1st Step Behavioral Health specializes in helping our clients acquire the tools it takes to break psychological dependence on alcohol.

Through various types of therapies, you’ll be able to begin replacing old behaviors with new ones. As time goes on, you’ll see the cravings subside as you develop a new outlook on life. Call 1st Step Behavioral Health at (866) 319-6126 or contact us here for more information about available programs.