In order to understand the difference between mental dependence and physical dependence, one must first understand two terms being; dependence and addiction. Dependence is defined as “an adaptive state that develops from repeated drug administration, and which results in withdrawal upon cessation of drug use.” whereas addiction is “marked by a change in behavior caused by the biochemical changes in the brain after continued substance abuse.” Although this might be confusing to some, one way to look at it is like this; dependence is an aspect that focuses on more of the physical, while addiction focuses more on the mental/emotional.
In turn, this brings us to how the two dependencies differ. First and foremost is mental dependence which focuses on something called triggers – which “involve any high-risk situation or stressor that sparks off a thought, feeling, or action to use drugs/alcohol.” This can stem from a number of factors – such as sight, sound, touch, taste, and/or even smell; As a result, the person can be in a certain – environment – or atmosphere that causes him/her to think about using. But a worst-case scenario is that he/she is surrounded by the influence of someone who he/she used to spend his/her time with when using; this same person can knock that person off track – while he/she is on his/her road to recovery.
Second is physical dependence – which is caused by “chronic use of a tolerance forming drug, in which abrupt or gradual drug withdrawal causes unpleasant physical symptoms.” In turn, the pain that the addict may experience – when attempting to quit – could be reason enough for him/her to resume use. For symptoms of withdrawal are anything but pleasurable – but getting through them can help the person to feel a whole lot better physically, mentally, emotionally, and in his/her life as a whole.
In conclusion, when you pair mental dependence with physical dependence you will begin to notice several life-altering changes within the individual. In fact, he/she will find his/her life ruled by addiction – as his/her time is fully committed, and/or centered, around the substance; times like these are when help is crucial because the sooner that medical treatment is sought out – in favor of the person – the healthier he/she will be. Not only that, but aspects of his/her life will begin to work out for the better – instead of plummeting downhill.