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Psychological dependency is an aspect of addiction and drug dependency and it is the psychological component of the addiction process. Examples include the fear of giving up the habit because of the uncertainties of recovery and the social and other habits that have become established around the adddictive activity. Stopping the physical aspects of the activity can lead to psychological withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, depression, anorexia, etc) due to factors such as loss of an old identity, loss of a social network, fear of being unable to take on new responsibilities or meeting new expectations. Often peoples psychological needs: for social contact, freedom from authority, and management of internal psychological states etc are to some degree resolved as a consequence of their addictive activity. Stopping the activity can lead them facing old problems that have to be addressed in more adaptive ways.
Addiction can in theory be derived from any rewarding behaviour, and is believed to be strongly associated with the dopaminergic system of the brain's reward system (as in the case of cocaine and amphetamines). Some claim that it is a habitual means to avoid undesired activity, but typically it is only so to a clinical level in individuals who have emotional, social, or psychological dysfunctions (psychological addiction is defined as such), replacing normal positive stimuli not otherwise attained (see Rat Park study).
A person who is physically dependent, but not psychologically dependent can have their dose slowly dropped until they are no longer dependent. However, if that person is psychologically dependent, they are still at serious risk for relapse into abuse and subsequent physical dependence.[How to reference and link to summary or text]
Psychological dependence does not have to be limited only to substances; even activities and behavioral patterns can be considered addictions, if they become uncontrollable, e.g. problem gambling, Internet addiction, computer addiction, sexual addiction / pornography addiction, eating, self-injury, or work addiction.
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