Physical Dependency Definition

physical dependency definition

Physical Dependency Definition

Physical Dependency refers to a state of chronic Dependence on a medication or drug resulting from prolonged abuse. The state is characteristically defined by an increase in Tolerance and Dependence in which negative consequences occur despite continued use. It is additionally defined by symptoms of withdrawal when cessation of the drug takes place. Physical Dependency can occur from prolonged use of sedatives, painkillers, or stimulants, but is defined by similar sets of consequences.

Withdrawal Stages

a man sitting by the window, thinking about physical dependencyTraditionally, the larger the dose, the greater the Physical Dependency that sets in. Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from days to weeks to months, depending on the drugs being abused; and the process typically occurs in stages. After the initial withdrawal symptoms have set in, the addict passes into what is referred to as post-acute withdrawal symptoms, also known as PAWS, which are referred to as secondary symptoms that tend to be less intense but that linger for indeterminate amounts of time. Traditionally, in cycles where relapse defines the addictive pathology, there is an inability to maintain employment and personal relationships. This cycle, one taken hold, can literally last for months or even years, with the passage of time entrenching and reinforcing the addictive tendencies.

Benzodiazepine Complications

Protracted withdrawal symptoms tend to emerge with abuse of sedative, specifically a class of drugs known as Benzodiazepines, a class of minor tranquilizers that doctors prescribe for a number of different ailments. Some of the more common Benzodiazepines prescribed include:

  • Valium – diazepam
  • Xanax – Alprazolam
  • Librium – Chlordiazepoxide
  • Klonopin – Clonazepam
  • Dalmane – flurazepam

As previously stated, protracted withdrawal syndrome is most often caused by the long-term abuse of Benzodiazepines, but is also present in a majority of cases of alcohol and opioid addiction. Although withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person, according to the substances being abused, they nevertheless follow a fairly predictable course of action. Physical dependency can manifest in both physiological symptoms and also psychological traits. Typically, the withdrawal symptoms manifest according to the drug’s effect on the central nervous system.

Symptoms of Dependence

Physical dependence can manifest itself in the appearance of both physical and psychological symptoms. Physiological adaptions in the central nervous system and the brain due to chronic exposure to a substance cause these effects. Symptoms frequently include:

  • Increased heart rate and/or blood pressure.
  • Sweating, and tremors.
  • Confusion.
  • Seizures.
  • Cramps.
  • Body aches and pains.
  • Hallucinations.

The Importance of Medical Support

Barbiturates, alcohol, and Benzodiazepine withdrawal frequently require medical attention because of the risk of major seizures and the risk of cardiac arrest. In cases where a person is withdrawing from a drug in which this is a factor, the person needs medical attention and the oversight of a physician trained in addiction medicine. Other factors that require the care of a physician include electrolyte dysfunction and arrhythmias.

Drug Dependence can Happen to Anyone

It’s important to note that anyone can become physically dependent on a drug or medication. Theoretically, anyone can become dependent on a medication or drug, without necessarily exhibiting the pathology that occurs when addiction is present. Individuals who, with respect to drugs or alcohol, manifest no compulsive features or traits can actually become chemically dependent, even if the process unfolds inadvertently. One common scenario is a person has to take opiates to control post-surgical pain. In this scenario, if the person ingests the opiates for long enough, they will develop both tolerance to, and dependence on, the medication, again, without necessarily exhibiting the driving compulsive pathology that must exist for a diagnosis of Addiction. Usually, however, most individuals for whom Dependency is an issue also demonstrate traits that professionals associate with Compulsive conditions, in addition to developing secondary mental health disorders that exacerbate the primary disorder.

Signs of Addictive Dependency

The most common features of Dependency at this stage include:

  • Preoccupation with alcohol and drugs.
  • Inability to control one’s drinking or using.
  • Increased tolerance to alcohol or drugs.
  • The presence of Dependence, which typically manifests with withdrawal symptoms.
  • Continued Abuse, despite increasingly severe and negative consequences.
  • Distortions in thinking, usually demonstrated by Denial.

Treatment Methods

To date, there is no cure for alcohol addiction or chemical dependency, although with proper, comprehensive treatment sobriety is attainable.
Suffice to say by the time a person is in need of residential or outpatient treatment; chemical dependency has progressed into something far more overreaching than merely a set of maladaptive, abusive behaviors and tendencies. Detoxification is rarely enough, and in order for the Dependent person to truly surmount their own pathological pitfalls and enjoy a life of recovery, they must be willing to confront and deconstruct a series of personality traits, assumptions, and belief systems that intertwine with their active Dependency.

Drugs with Habit Forming Potential

The following list is by no means comprehensive, and there is available a multitude of drugs not on this list that nonetheless have enormous Abuse potential. However, for the sake of expediency, the following substances that people most frequently abuse include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Hallucinogens
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Opiates
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Inhalants
  • Methamphetamine
  • Nicotine

The development of physical dependency can happen faster than you think. The only way to fight back is comprehensive substance abuse treatment and aftercare. To learn more, contact Casa Palmera today.