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When people think about addiction, they often don’t realize that addiction doesn’t simply come in one form. Not in the sense of what we become addicted to, but rather how addiction is able to take hold of us. Addiction tends to function more like a team; coordinating an attack on us from multiple sides. On one side you have psychological addiction, which attacks you on a more subconscious level. Infiltrating your mind, and affecting your mental and emotional well-being. On the other side, you have physical addiction. This is the addiction that you feel upfront. This is the addiction that attaches itself to your body and holds-on at the expense of making you feel miserable.

Physical addiction, also known as physical dependence, occurs when the body becomes so accustomed to a substance on a chemical level that it can no longer function properly without that substance. Over time, the body builds what is known as a tolerance to a certain substance, which causes it to grow to need more and more of it to meet the same need. Because the body becomes so used to having so much of that substance in it, once a person starts to cut that supply off, the body begins to react negatively to no longer having what it grew used to. This is what most people know as withdrawal. The effects of withdrawal can vary depending on the person and the substance – but can range from mild symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and headaches… to more severe symptoms, such as seizures, and delirium treatments.

Some Signs of Physical Addiction:

  • Building a tolerance – constantly requiring a larger dose to receive the same desired effect
  • Changes in sleep pattern, or hygiene
  • Changes in eating habits that result in weight loss/gain
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or uncontrollable shaking when stopping the substance

What is the Treatment for Physical Addiction?

Because the body and substance become so intertwined with physical addiction, the safest and most effective way to break that bond is through a detoxification process. The goal is to reverse the tolerance the body has built-up towards that substance. Take alcohol detox for example. Alcohol detox involves weaning the body off of alcohol by slowly lowering the dose until alcohol is no longer needed, while also reducing or avoiding the effects of withdrawal. Because certain substances can be dangerous when abruptly discontinued, this treatment is safest and most effective under professional and medical supervision.

Treating physical dependence can be overwhelming. And even when properly treated, it’s only one step in the full recovery process. Once the physical addiction is overcome to next step is to deal with the underlying psychological addiction. If you or a loved one should ever find yourself needing help, or simply would like additional information on what to do, please contact the skilled professionals at Serenity Acres 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.