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A 47-year-old member asked:

what is the difference between mental and physical addiction?

5 doctor answers7 doctors weighed in
Dr. Pamela Pappas
Psychiatry 42 years experience
Addiction: Physical tolerance to a substance can mean that more & more of it is needed for the same effect; physical addiction can mean having withdrawal symptoms from that substance when without it. "mental" addiction involves the behaviors one does with the substance. People often use more than intended; cannot stop once they start; lie about use; pursue the substance despite bad effects on rest of life.
Dr. Pamela Pappas
Psychiatry 42 years experience
Often together: The 2 of these often come together. "addiction" signifies a behavioral pattern of using a substance despite obvious harm to the person's life, work, and relationships. They use more than intended; lie about using; and spend lots of time using it. Physical habituation (having withdrawal symptoms when missing dose) can happen without addiction, but may come with mental/behavioral patterns as above.
Dr. Stuart Wasser
Addiction Medicine 35 years experience
No difference: In my opinion. Mental or psychologic addiction is still due to physiological changes although limited to that part of the brain that controls our emotions. Appetites, motivation and learning. Its all physical.
Dr. Samuel Miles
Psychiatry 47 years experience
Behavior: Many drugs can cause physiologic dependence, as the body adjusts to them. Abrupt discontinuation may evoke an uncomfortable withdrawal syndrome. This is different from the psychological disorder of addiction, in which there is preoccupation with and loss of control over use of a substance which causes distress and major changes in interpersonal function.
Dr. Alan Ali
Dr. Alan Ali answered
Psychiatry 32 years experience
Physical addiction: Is continued use to avoid unpleasant physical symptoms when not using.

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Similar questions

A 36-year-old member asked:

Can you explain to me the difference between mental and physical addiction - if there is one?

3 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. William Drescher
Dr. William Drescher answered
Psychiatry 49 years experience
The line is blury: In a classical (physical) addiction the body changes by creating more receptor sites for the drug to which you get addicted. In a mental (emotional) addiction you find the drug/experience pleasurable and want to repeat it. Basically both feel the same to the individual and both are difficult to break.
A 32-year-old member asked:

What is the physiological basis for addiction?

1 doctor answer3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Alan Ali
Dr. Alan Ali answered
Psychiatry 32 years experience
Addiction: Stimulating the reward system in the brain.
A 41-year-old member asked:

How do you get over an addiction?

3 doctor answers8 doctors weighed in
Dr. Seth Kunen
Clinical Psychology 45 years experience
No easy answer: Depends on type of addiction (e.g., drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, eating). Nonetheless, abstinence is difficult to achieve and requires many changes (in lifestyle, friends, social life). Counseling and participation in self-help groups is very helpful. Medication may help. Relapses are common and not necessarily a sign of failure. Families of the addict should join self-help groups as well.
A 45-year-old member asked:

What is the worst and most addictive drug of all?

1 doctor answer1 doctor weighed in
Dr. Jeffrey Roth
Addiction Medicine 43 years experience
Nicotine and alcohol: Nicotine and alcohol are the most toxic drugs and cause the most damage to those who use them and their families.
A 40-year-old member asked:

I need to get over a tv addiction. Should I buy an ipad?

1 doctor answer3 doctors weighed in
Dr. Alfredo Garcia
Pediatrics 56 years experience
Facebook addiction: Entice your teenager to work out, either at home or at the gym. Get her involved in community activities, volunteering at the hospital or library, babysitting. Have her pick up a sport - the simplest ones are walking, running.And bike-riding. Most expensive proposition - go shopping. Also, develop hobbies like playing an instrument. Take up art lessons, dance, acting. No, don't substitute ipad.

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Last updated Oct 4, 2016

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