The Psychology of Addiction and Recovery

Addiction is more complex than people think. Any psychologist, like FPS, will tell you that there are physical and psychological components of addiction. It is important to focus on both components of addiction when it comes to overcoming addiction. A lot of people just look at the physical, and not the psychological. The psychological component of addiction does not need to be overlooked because an addict can not be truly overcome without focusing on this part of addiction also. The psychological aspect of addiction is also key because treating addiction not only consists of the physical part of addiction, but also the emotional and psychological parts of it as well.The definition of psychological addiction goes beyond this.


The American Psychological Association says psychological dependence is a mental cycle where a person is “dependent on a psychoactive substance for the reinforcement it provides”. For a lay person, what this means is that the psychological reaction to the medication or drug brings precipitates and, at the same time, reinforces its ongoing abuse. For diagnostic criteria reasons, this usually is put under the addiction heading, and are usually indivisible as phenomenon whereby craving is generated. The term addiction refers to a certain substance that the addict abuses on a regular basis because it provides a positive mental effect. The pleasure center of the brain also becomes overstimulated. This area also controls emotions, fear, self-control, and overall feelings of wellness. These unknown chemicals being present in the brain causes the brain to desire them once the effect is gone. The brain goes against the health of the body because it controls decision making and its main goal is to find more of the substance and taking it. A lot of people have the wrong idea and believe that psychological addiction is somehow not as serious or is not as real as being physically addicted to a substance. It is more challenging and difficult to recover from psychological addiction versus physical addiction. Psychological addiction can last for many years or a person’s whole lifetime.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that a proper treatment plan helps with the emotional and psychological needs of an addict. Psychology has a very important part in overcoming addiction. The reason for this is that it helps an addict learn important skills that will help them with overcoming addiction in the future. There are psychological aspects of addiction that cause the psychological need to continue taking in the alcohol and/or drugs.

The Psychological Need For a Drug

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that addiction means that a person is will continue to use the alcohol and /or drug despite how it hurts them physically because they have a psychological need for the drug. It is that strong and that powerful. There are also psychological aspects of addiction.

1)Psychological Aspects of Addiction

A) Compulsive drug seeking behaviors (always looking for the drug)
B) Taking action to get the alcohol and/or drug, even after choosing to quit using the substance (doing whatever it takes to get the drug)
C) Being emotionally dependent on the drug
D) Trying to use a substance to self-medicate or to get away from emotional trauma

There are also specific causes of drug abuse which are:

A) For women, past sexual abuse and
B) A child who has four or more traumatic experiences before they reach adulthood

All hope is not lost though, because addiction can be treated with psychology. There are many psychological treatments for addiction. The psychological treatments that can help with addiction are:

A) Cognitive-behavior therapy programs
B) Psychoanalytic treatments
C) Counseling treatments, that can include group therapy and individual therapy
D) Twelve Step Programs
E) Education
F) Spiritual Care
G) Living in a healthy environment and
H) Discovering healthy and helpful diversions

Web MD says that a lot of treatment programs use cognitive-behavior therapy due to the fact that it uses essential methods of coping and ways to change personal behaviors. It identifies the thought processes and situations that make drugs or alcohol enticing, and then teaches various methods to redirect personal thoughts and change the actions that they take. There are also benefits of using psychology to treat addiction.

There are many causes of addiction, including being curious about the substance or accidents that cause physical injuries. Treating addiction has no right way to treat everyone’s addiction, every addict has different needs when it comes to treating their addiction. Every addict should have a treatment plan made just for them. However, psychological treatments have a great role in the recovery process, by focusing on the underlying concerns and helping a person find better ways of dealing with cravings and temptations.

As stated, the psychological aspect of addiction is quite real and is truly very serious. A person has no control over their own body as their mind controls every part of their life. It needs to be viewed as a disease, but the sick person has to be seriously behind getting the help and treatment that are in need to get their life back together, and heal their body and mind. They have to seek out and be serious about following their treatment plan or they unfortunately will fail and not get the treatment that they desperately need to treat their addiction. Without the physical and psychological treatment and a treatment plan designed just for them, an addict may always be an addict instead of getting the help they need and getting their lives back together.

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