Addiction is much more than dependency on a subject. As we’ve professed before, no two addictions are alike, and can occur for much different reasons.

For instance, one person can be addicted to working out, while another can be addicted to alcohol. It doesn’t matter that one activity keeps you active, while continually drinking booze stagnates you and in the eventual, can cause serious health problems.

Regardless, both activities arrive from a place of addiction, which in the long run is not the healthiest of lifestyles for you.



Those in the medical and rehabilitation fields understand that addiction can come in two forms; psychological and physical.

Addiction is broken down this way because certain drugs don’t necessarily cause physical addiction, just mental addiction.

Marijuana, for example, fits perfectly into this idea of psychological addiction without the physical ramifications.

Marijuana is not addictive, especially when taken medicinally. First, it doesn’t have the properties that highly addictive opioids have, which tends to take physical dependency from the drug. And 2) Without physical addiction, there possibly will not be a need for intense inpatient detox.

More than likely, the addict will be an outpatient, yet given the same care and treatment as an impatient.

To that point, physical addictions – or at least most of them have already altered the brain’s chemistry. The user who abuses addictive drugs now has an issue with what they’re using, and now must address that addiction.



Physical addiction occurs when a person’s body fails to function unless it induces a substance or drug, on which it has become physically dependent.

Then, when the body is depleted of its drug of choice, painful withdrawal symptoms kick in.

Eventually, the user finds that the easiest way to stem the pain of withdrawal, is to take more drugs. Ironically (and unfortunately), not all users are able to complete a full cold turkey cessation to their habit.

Some typical withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Tremors
  • Shakes
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Chills
  • Body aches



A psychological addiction is defined as a compulsion or perceived need to use.

A person supposedly addicted to marijuana – which many maintain is physically impossible – still might think they need the drug to function properly, such as to fall asleep, or stay calm in a seemingly hostile situation.

And yet, if this person does fall asleep without the drug, or makes it through a social event sans the use of marijuana, and doing so without experiencing withdrawal, or miss taking the drug before a social situation, the consequences of marijuana withdrawal won’t be nearly as bad as with someone who has a physical addiction.

In more severe psychological addiction cases, these thoughts become all-consuming. Without help, a psychological dependency can transform a drug of choice into all that is important in a person’s life.



While treatments for physical and psychological withdrawal are different and occur at different times during a person’s rehabilitation, they are still related and needed for a successful recovery.

Rehabilitation experts state that physical addiction is typically addressed through a medically supervised detoxification that can last from a few days to a week.

While detoxing, you are slowly weaned off your drug to help avoid any negative physical symptoms associated with withdrawal.

When the physical process is complete, treatment for psychological addiction begins.

Detox is detox. Its result is to purify your body of the drugs it once took. Detox does not address underlying desires to use.

For this, inpatient treatment programs are recommended to help combat the inevitable temptation to relapse. The education sessions, relapse prevention plans and coping techniques acquired during rehab are all essential to a sober life.

Once you leave treatment, you are encouraged to develop a support network that will become essential to managing your addiction and recovery.

You’ll be encouraged to find available AA and NA meetings in your community, develop friendships with people who are also in recovery and have contacts you can reach out to for support.

Whatever your addiction may be, once you have the right tools, you can overcome it. Knowing the difference, yet the relatability between physical and psychological addiction is a great starting point.


If you feel alcohol and/or drugs is causing a block between yourself and your loved ones, contact BLVD Treatment Centers. At BLVD Treatment Centers, we custom tailor our recovery programs within the safe and nurturing confines of our rehab treatment centers. We specialize in programs that include alcohol and drug detox and recovery, intensive outpatient rehabilitation, and specialty curriculums for members of the LGBTQ+ society.

Located throughout California, in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego and in Portland, OR, our mission is to assess the severity of your addiction to help you achieve true recovery within 30 days. Call us now at 1-866.582.9844.


Please mention this article and other related website content upon registering with a BLVD Treatment Center.


Psychological vs. Physical Addiction: What’s the Difference?