Psychological dependence

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In the APA Dictionary of Psychology, psychological dependence is defined as "dependence on a psychoactive substance for the reinforcement it provides." [1] Most times psychological dependence is classified under addiction. They are similar in that addiction is a physiological "craving" for something and psychological dependence is a "need" for a particular substance because it causes enjoyable mental affects.

A person becomes dependent on something to help alleviate specific emotions.[2] Psychological dependence begins after the first trial which a person then becomes satisfied and the satisfaction increases with each use. This constant feeling leads to psychological reinforcement which eventually leads to dependence.[3] Along with substances, people can also become dependent on activities as well; such as shopping, pornography, self-harm, and many more. While a psychologically dependent person attempts to recover, there are many withdrawal symptoms that one can experience throughout the process. Some of the withdrawal symptoms are: headache, poor judgement, trembling hands, and loss of attention span and focusing.[4] When trying to over come psychological dependence on a drug, one can go to a substance abuse program.[5]


  1. ^ VandenBos, Gary R. APA Dictionary of Psychology. 1st ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. Print.
  2. ^ Myers, David G. Psychology. 9th ed. New York: Worth, 2010. Print.
  3. ^ Hanson, Glen, Peter J. Venturelli, and Annette E. Fleckenstein. Drugs and Society. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2009. Print.
  4. ^ "Defining Addiction, Physical and Psychological Dependence to Drugs, Alcohol and Other Related Addictions." Drug Rehabilitation | Alcohol and Drug Rehab Clinic. Web. 02 Dec. 2010. <>.
  5. ^ The national center on addiction and substance abuse at Columbia University:"Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities", march 2007, also published on