Understanding Physical Dependence

Bodily Adaptation to Substance and Withdrawal in Recovery

To understand physical dependency on drugs or alcohol, we must first define dependent. Dependent traditionally means contingent upon or determined by, and someone or something that is relied upon for support in some way. Physical dependence is a condition that is caused by the extended use of a substance that is tolerance-forming. With these definitions in mind, it also includes the fact that the body adapts to the use of a substance, so the body’s chemical structure changes to include and incorporate the chemical structure of the substance in hopes to survive the destruction of the natural state and counteract the effects of the foreign chemical. Once physical dependence forms, the body can no longer function normally without the substance.

Physical dependence is of concern in the process of recovery due to the risks of withdrawal. Because of the potential severity of withdrawal symptoms, and the risks involved with quitting a substance that the body is dependent upon, it is important to have medical attention and assistance when possible. Thrive N’ Beat Addiction can help you find the detox center that will best serve you during the physical withdrawal period. Our team of San Bernardino detox and rehabilitation specialists will work with you to find resources for success in your recovery.

Contact Thrive N’ Beat Addiction today. We are ready to help 24/7!

Symptoms of Tolerance and Withdrawal

When referring to physical dependence, we are often speaking about the symptoms of tolerance, adaptation, and withdrawal from a drug or alcoholic substance. The body is constantly working with the chemicals that we ingest, to best maintain health and normal function. In this sense, when we eat healthy, nutrient-rich food, our body uses those natural chemicals to thrive and feel good. When we ingest drugs or alcohol, the body adapts to continue to survive and function by changing our own chemicals to compensate for the new chemical.

As tolerance increases to a substance, our adaptive ability changes and we need more of that chemical to function. This tolerance is one of the first signs of physical dependence. Physical dependence can manifest in both physical and psychological symptoms.

Symptoms and signs of physical dependence include:

  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Body aches
  • Dry mouth
  • Issues with blood pressure
  • Restless legs
  • Disorientation
  • Issues with digestion and bowel control
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

Once a dependence develops, and the body has adjusted to the foreign chemical, there is bound to be a withdrawal period when drug or alcohol use is stopped. This period will typically include suffering from withdrawal symptoms that are both physical and psychological. Physical dependence withdrawal and detox usually preclude psychological treatment and rehabilitation.

Some people will go through this period alone or at home, but the safest way to physically detox is under medical supervision in a detox center. Treatment for physical dependence during detox involves medical examination and supervision, where the doctor or practitioner will monitor vital signs, symptoms, pain, and tolerance of the symptoms. Sometimes, medical detox will include medicinal assistance to lessen the severity of the symptoms. Physical withdrawal may last a few days or up to weeks, depending on the severity of the substance abuse and the drug or substance of choice.

Symptoms of physical withdrawal may include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Severe sweating
  • Seizures
  • Restlessness
  • Elevated heart rate or anxiety symptoms

Don’t Suffer Through Withdrawal Alone: We Are Here For You

If you are physically dependent and psychologically addicted to drugs or alcohol, do not face recovery alone. Our team of San Bernardino detox and rehab specialists at Thrive N’ Beat Addiction are here to help you along the way with information and resources for recovery. It is time to take your life back from the hands of addiction.

Contact Thrive N’ Beat Addiction to learn more about physical and psychological addiction and what steps to take to break the cycle.