Difference Between Physical and Psychological Dependency

The main difference between physical and psychological dependency is that one is a physiological or organic dependency and the other is a mental dependency. Physiological dependence implies damage when the substance is abandoned because the body has become used to it. Thus, we find that it is physical dependence that generates the withdrawal syndrome when you stop consuming, but it does not happen with psychological dependence. However, here we must mention something important that is rarely taken into account, and that is that physical dependence in itself does not constitute an addiction to this substance (it is true that they usually go hand in hand, but not necessarily).

An Example

For example, imagine that you are in the hospital and they give you morphine regularly because you have pain that justifies it. It is likely that, at the end of the treatment, you will have withdrawal syndrome, because your body has developed physical dependence. However, since there is no psychological dependence (that is, you have not built a whole series of stories and mental traps that lead you to think that you need the substance), you will not have problems stopping using it. You will just have a few bad days with the withdrawal syndrome, and that’s it.

However, it is true that the usual thing is that both types of dependency go hand in hand. In fact, a good example of psychological dependence is antidepressants or sleeping pills. The person may have overcome the original problem and, physiologically, be ready to live without the use of these substances. However, he has built a series of stories that lead him to think that, without antidepressants or sleeping pills, he will not be able to be well emotionally or he will not be able to sleep. There is an addiction there, even if the physical dependence is minimal (or nonexistent).

What Type Of Dependency Is Worse?

It is often thought that physical dependence is worse than psychological because physical dependence is linked to harder drugs, such as injected cocaine or heroin, while psychological dependence is associated with milder drugs, such as marijuana or LSD (Although the latter case does not generate any type of dependency, for reasons that are not relevant). However, the truth is that it is psychological dependence that is really serious, as we have seen previously. It is psychological dependence that makes us think that we need the substance for our day-to-day routine.

Overcoming Addiction

Therefore, in an attempt to overcome an addiction, it is necessary to work hard on psychological dependence, making the consumer see that the substance is not necessary to develop his life normally. One last note: We have said that physical dependence generates a withdrawal syndrome with nausea, pain, or even hallucinations (as in the case of alcohol). However, psychological dependence can also generate something similar. Physiologically, it shouldn’t cause any of these symptoms. However, the mind is very powerful, and certain thoughts can be somatized. Therefore, stopping sleeping pills may really make it difficult for you to sleep more, but it is something psychological that is somatized, it is not something properly physiological.


As you can see, physical dependence and psychological dependence on a drug are not the same. That is why it is convenient to differentiate them, because, otherwise, any analysis we do will be biased and we will not be able to fully understand the implications of these substances. Check out https://www.gallusdetox.com/ for more details.

Psychological problems are a common issue that many people face. They can be caused by a number of factors such as family, friends, and work. See here to know more about it.