Substance Use

What Is Physical Dependence?

Drug addicted man in jeans sitting on the ground with syringe in his hands

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Physical Dependence on Drugs and Alcohol

Having physical symptoms after no longer taking drugs like benzodiazepines or alcohol indicates physical dependence. It means your brain and body have developed a reliance on these substances to maintain normal functioning. Seek medical assistance when dealing with physical withdrawal symptoms, as the severity may require medications and other treatments for a safe and comfortable recovery.

Experience an evidence-based and holistic approach to recovery at Zinnia Health, where we understand the intricate interplay between physical and psychological drug dependence. Our compassionate team of professionals is committed to providing effective treatment tailored to your unique needs. Call us today at (855) 430-9439 to embark on your comprehensive recovery journey.

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What Are the Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal?

Common physical withdrawal symptoms from drug or alcohol addiction include:

  • Nausea
  • Sweating
  • Delirium tremens
  • A racing heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Fatigue

In severe cases of physical dependence, more serious side effects such as seizures or delirium can occur.

Why Does Physical Dependence Occur?

Physical addiction can take hold even in cases where drug or alcohol abuse is absent. For example, medications prescribed by physicians for legitimate purposes can lead to physical dependence.

Consider opioids, which may be prescribed to manage pain following surgery, for chronic pain conditions, or to alleviate discomfort associated with cancer. Even when taken as directed, these medications can lead to a profound reliance on them, causing withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.

The emergence and intensity of physical withdrawal symptoms are influenced by various factors unique to each individual.

The Difference Between Psychological and Physical Addiction

Individuals wrestling with substance use disorders often find themselves entangled in a complex web of both physical and psychological addiction symptoms. Physical dependence produces a range of uncomfortable bodily sensations when the substance is absent, while psychological dependence encompasses the emotional and motivational factors that fuel the persistent craving for drugs or alcohol.

Although these two forms of dependence possess distinct qualities, they intricately intertwine and reinforce one another, creating a formidable barrier to recovery.

The detoxification process varies in duration, contingent upon individual factors and the specific substance involved. While physical withdrawal symptoms typically subside within a matter of days or weeks, the lingering psychological effects of substance abuse can extend far beyond that timeframe.

These effects, driven by potent emotions and triggering situations, can exert a powerful influence, perpetuating cravings and urges long after physical withdrawal has abated.


Within the realm of addiction recovery, psychological dependence plays a significant role in the realm of post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS). This syndrome manifests as a collection of withdrawal symptoms persisting for weeks or months following the waning of physical drug addiction.

How To Address Physical Dependence

Addressing physical dependence begins with medical detox, which takes place under the care of physicians and nurses who ensure the safety and comfort of individuals during drug or alcohol detoxification. They monitor vital signs, provide necessary medical interventions, and prescribe research-backed medications to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

Medication-Assisted Treatment

After safely allowing substances to clear from the body, individuals may still require medication to manage residual physical symptoms. For example, medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is often used to help those struggling with addiction to opioids. MAT is typically combined with behavioral therapy and support groups to provide comprehensive care.

At Zinnia Health, we recognize that overcoming addiction involves addressing both physical and psychological dependence. Take the courageous step towards a life free from addiction by contacting us at (855) 430-9439. We work with most healthcare providers.

Psychiatric Care

The process of freeing the brain from the grip of drugs or alcohol can trigger adjustments that may initially disrupt its delicate equilibrium, resulting in mental disorders.

To support individuals in their recovery, healthcare professionals may incorporate psychiatric care as part of the treatment plan. This may involve prescribing antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications to help alleviate the burden of mental health challenges.

The impact of substance addictions on the brain’s reward system necessitates a period of restoration and reestablishment of chemical balance. As this process unfolds, individuals may grapple with feelings of depression and anxiety as their brain recalibrates and adapts to a life free from substances.

By integrating psychiatric care into substance abuse treatment programs, a comprehensive and holistic approach is fostered. This multifaceted approach acknowledges the intricate relationship between mental health and addiction, recognizing the importance of addressing both aspects to facilitate a successful and enduring recovery journey.

Through evidence-based therapies, medication management, and personalized support, individuals can traverse the path of healing with enhanced resilience and improved mental well-being.

Alternative Therapies

Some recovery centers offer additional treatments like chiropractic services, massage therapy, and acupuncture alongside medical and psychiatric care. These alternative approaches can help manage physical withdrawal symptoms related to alcohol and drug addiction.

They can also address any physical discomfort or pain that may have been masked by drug or alcohol abuse and subsequently surfaced after detox.

Address the Underlying Reasons

It’s important to recognize that drug addiction treatment extends beyond treating physical dependence alone. Without addressing the underlying reasons for substance abuse, the risk of relapse remains high.

Substance abuse and mental health treatment provides an opportunity to explore and identify underlying trauma, mental health challenges, relationship struggles, and other contributing factors to addiction. By addressing these emotional wounds and learning healthier coping mechanisms, individuals can embark on a path of healing and develop the skills necessary for sustained recovery.

Seek Support Today

It’s important to seek help if you or someone you care about is struggling with addiction. The journey of recovery can be difficult but fulfilling, and professional support can greatly increase the chances of achieving lasting sobriety.

Zinnia Health offers a range of addiction treatment options for you or a loved one. From medical detox and inpatient rehab to outpatient programs and sober living, our comprehensive treatment plans integrate evidence-based therapies and holistic approaches to provide a supportive and understanding environment for recovery from drug abuse. Call (855) 430-9439 for assistance.

Call us
Ready to get help?
(855) 430-9439
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