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The term “Dependency”


The physical dependency is reflected upon the development of tolerance (continuous dosage increase, in order to sustain the same effect), in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms) (withdrawal syndrome), when if the user stops taking the substance, or when they are “forced” to take the substance in order to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms. The psychological dependence can be understood as the compulsion to use a substance with the aim of experiencing positive feelings or to avoid unpleasant sensations (e.g. Saufdruck (def.: a strong urge or craving to drink alcohol)). It can also be seen as the lost track of time and control over substance intake, focusing their lives on only substance abuse in exchange of health and social damages. Physical and psychological dependencies are often summarized under the term “dependency syndrome”. Common accompanying illnesses include anxiety disorders and depression; Many sufferers have suicidal thoughts.

Causes of addiction/dependence: Dependency can be caused by numerous reasons. Like in a network, the individual strands are intertwined and mutually complementing each other. The sense of belonging to a certain age group, social class or gender does not matter. Terms such as an “addictive personality” or “addiction gene” do not exist. However, there are risk factors that may facilitate the beginning of an addiction. The brain also has a reward system that can cause addiction problems; the brain rewards itself with neurotransmitters dopamine, psychological and psychiatric components, genetic dispositions and sociocultural conditions. (For more details:

Substance abuse/ Forms of addiction:

There is a difference between substance-related dependence (alcohol, tobacco, medications, illegal drugs) and non-substance-related dependence (gambling, internet, sex, shopping, work, sport). This form of dependency is also described as behavioural addiction. Furthermore, there is an overlap such as eating disorders: they have a psychological background, affect you physically, and are in many ways similar to an addiction. If that’s the case, then they are referred to as psychosomatic diseases with an addictive nature.

Polytoxicomania: Dependency towards more than one drug. It does not always involve dependency on only one particular drug. Addicts often consume one or more psychotropic substances (drugs). Previously, this was referred to by the term polytoxikomania. Nowadays, the phrase “Mental and behavioural disorders due to multiple drug use and use of other psychoactive substances” is used instead in medical field of diagnosis.

The road to dependency: Depending on the drug, addiction can happen quickly or after several years. With heroin, cocaine, or other synthetic drugs such as crystal meth (amphetamine), it happens very quickly; With alcohol, drugs and tobacco, dependency occurs after several years of abuse. The same applies to the development of behavioural addictions. The development of substance-related addiction is described in the following scheme, which is also applicable to behavioural addictions such as gambling:

  • Trail phase: first contact with the drug
  • Familiarization phase: the drug is a fixed element in his/her life.
  • Abuse: the drug is consumed regularly and in large quantities; adverse physical, psychological and social impacts are visible and tolerated.
  • Dependence: the procurement and consumption of drugs determine the everyday life of the person concerned with all the consequences; They only “function” under the influence of addictive substances.

Codependency: This form of a dysfunctional relationship mainly affects the family or partner of an addict, but also the other social environment. Therefore, it is considered as a “system of addiction”. Relatives of addicts would try to help, protect, warn, explain and justify. Codependents would support their partner until self-abandonment. They are not able to realise the hopelessness of their behaviour and to behave accordingly. This can also get worse to an extent that the codependents themselves can no longer feel and perceive – at least in the case of relationships that involve addicts, but also often in other cases. Not only partners or children of addicts can develop co-dependency. Those who are affected are people with a family or professional relationship with an emotionally and/or mentally retarded individual. This can be both doctors, therapists, professionals in nursing, as well as parents of children with behavioural problems.

Therapy: Psycotherapy is performed stationarily in specialized clinics and lasts, depending on the drug, for several weeks to months. An inpatient detoxification will also be done beforehand. Therapies can only be successful if those concerned accept their dependencies as a disease (understanding of the disease), which they cannot defeat on their own and therefore are willing to accept help from the outside.

Addictive, but abstinent and clean: this is more or less how you would describe the status of an addict after a successful therapy because: A dependency in the classic sense is not curable. Humans remain selfish, and the “relationship with the drug” is permanently stored in the brain (addiction memory) and can be recalled at any time (relapse). Just as someone who has “learned” the use of addictive substance, he/she must now learn how to live without it. It’s not “I am no longer allowed to have it” but instead “I no longer need it”, and that is the foundation of a drug-free life. After therapy, visiting a support self-help group and counselling is important because they help reduce the high risk of relapsing. The “lone wolf” likes to succeed in other fields; In the deep sea of addiction, they suffer shipwreck.

Silence is not the solution

It was him who was expecting and feared an appointment from his boss. He was never a friend of diplomacy. “They drink. When it does not stop, you’re out. That’s it. Caught. Your disguise or cover is blown. Denial is futile. Reminders, subtle hints, physical and psychological symptoms – drown everything in the next glass…

We talk about addiction or dependency syndrome, which is a very difficult and emotionally burdening topic, and for the example of alcohol and drugs, there are a dozen of other substances out there. Addiction gradually develops over time (like cancer) and is always accompanied by some nasty fellows such as depression and anxiety disorders.

Regardless of the treatment steps, the person will (have to) learn that there is no cure for this disease. That way, the light at the end of the tunnel does not go out again. It is important to keep in mind not to ever again form a friendship with the drug because otherwise it’ll get harder and harder to climb out of the hole, that is addiction. No one should go through this alone; there are a lot of help out there that do not obtrude themselves on the person involved. The addicts need to want help and look for it themselves. Read all…