It's easy to understand why people abuse many substances. They can feel good, serve as a distraction, or take away the pain. But what's actually happening when someone develops a physical dependence on drugs? It's complicated. Understanding physical dependency is often the first step towards getting out of it. In the most serious cases, a drug detox program is necessary to help each individual safely and comfortably progress through withdrawal. Then, they can begin treatment and start working on the tools they will need for a lasting recovery. What's the Difference Between Psychological and Physical Dependence? Physical dependence on a drug is typified by illness when the drug is absent. This is why physical dependence can be dangerous, and why it's so difficult to counter. Someone will feel worse when they are not on a drug or medication than when they are using it. Physical dependence can lead to psychological dependence, and there is often at least some crossover. It's easy to be psychologically dependent on something that makes you feel better. Addiction therapy programs can help reveal the psychological aspects of addiction in order to treat them. However, physical dependence must be treated through medical intervention and other holistic treatments. Why Does Physical Dependence Occur? Every type of substance is different. However, in the most simple terms, physical dependence occurs when the body acclimates the chemical changes that the drug creates in their body. When the medication is no longer there, those chemical changes don't occur, and the body can react aggressively. Consider something simple, such as\u00a0sugar. If people eat too much sugar, their body's natural methods of balancing blood sugar go awry. People find themselves using more and more sugar to generate the same taste, and they may need additional medical treatment (such as insulin) to counteract the effects of using sugar to excess. Many people find themselves addicted to opiates because opiates take away their pain. When not using opiates, their pain returns dramatically worse than before, in addition to a number of other side effects. At this point, they are physically dependent on the medication, because the medication is what allows them to function. When someone is physically dependent on a medication or other substance, they will find themselves experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms whenever they are not using the substance. These withdrawal symptoms can happen with any type of medication, including depression and anxiety medications. One of the best signs of physical dependency is feeling as though one is ill or unwell when not using drugs or alcohol. How Do You Avoid Withdrawal? Quite a few drug addictions today arise from legally prescribed opiate medications. People who are concerned about developing physical dependency\u00a0may want to avoid such medications as much as possible, only taking them when they're absolutely necessary. Those who need to be on medications should be careful about how much they use. And those who worry about developing a dependence on substances such as alcohol should take rest periods (periods of sobriety) to make sure they haven't developed a physical addiction. How Can You Treat Physical Dependence? Often, alternative medications "wean" each client slowly, so that an individual doesn't experience all the negative impact of physical dependence at once. Going "cold turkey" on some medications or drugs may be more satisfying psychologically, but it's often not recommended for more serious substance abuse issues. Sometimes, medication assisted treatment can be used to replace the substance that's being abused, much like methadone can be used to replace heroin. Clinicians can replace street drugs with safer drugs that have fewer side effects. This allows people to detox off their substances slowly. There are even some alternative treatments. Holistic treatment like a yoga therapy program or massage therapy program helps to make clients more comfortable. While dependence and withdrawal can be damaging, or sometimes even fatal, treatment from professionals can help each individual through the first stages of withdrawal. The connection between substance abuse, physical dependence, and psychological dependence can be extremely complex. It takes a talented professional to unravel. If you feel as though you have issues with substance abuse, contact the professionals at Lucida Treatment Center at .