Experts now agree that addiction is an illness of the brain versus being a personal flaw or choice. The illness of the addiction is evident in the way that brain functioning is altered as the disease of addiction progresses. Since the brain is a part of the physical body, those who are addicted to either drugs or alcohol are going to have physical experiences of addiction. At the same time, there are also going to be accompanying psychological symptoms of addiction. This article will explore the differences between both the physical and psychological facets of addiction.

It would be misleading to say that the physical and psychological experiences of addiction are completely separate. Certainly, they influence each other. The brain, which can be where the experiences of addiction begin, can have an effect on both physical health as well as psychological health. For instance, if you were to imagine yourself about to fall off a cliff, you might get a very uneasy feeling in your stomach (physical), while also experiencing memories and images (psychological) of falling and what it might be like to land so brutally. Both the body and the mind get involved in the experience.

One hallmark of the physical experience of addiction is that the body needs more and more of it. It’s an experience called tolerance. When the body becomes more and more tolerant, it needs more alcohol or more of the drug in order to experience the same highs. A sign of tolerance is that the body will go through withdrawal symptoms if it goes too long without the substance. Of course, the body will also experience the following symptoms of withdrawal when it is beginning the process of detoxification and sobriety.

  • -Nausea
  • -Vomiting
  • -Seizures
  • -Changes to heart rate
  • -Changes to blood pressure
  • -Body tremors or shaking
  • -Headaches
  • -Stomachaches
  • -Sweating
  • -Fever
  • -Shallow breathing
  • -Diarrhea
  • -Loss of appetite


One hallmark of psychological addiction is feeling compelled to drink or use drugs. The compulsory behavior in the illness of addiction is a sign that someone has lost power over the drug. The psychological experience is very challenging. On the one hand, you might not even want to drink anymore. Or you might tell yourself that you can stop anytime. Yet, on the other hand you might find yourself drinking or getting high. You end up participating in the addictive behavior even though you might not want to. It’s an experience of powerlessness to the substance. The following are additional symptoms of psychological addiction:

  • -Feelings of anxiety when thinking about bringing an addiction to an end.
  • -Feeling unable to cope with life without drugs or alcohol.
  • -Experiencing denial.
  • -Obsessing or fantasizing about the use of drugs or alcohol.
  • -Feeling restless when not drunk or high.
  • -Feelings of depression when substance use ends
  • -Insomnia
  • -Mood Swings


All of the above are physical and psychological symptoms of addiction. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above, contact a mental health professional for support and guidance.

If you are reading this on any blog other than, it is stolen content without credit.
You can find us on Twitter via @nulife_recovery and Facebook via NuLife Addiction Treatment.
Come and visit our blog at