What is Addiction?

Addiction is simply defined as the compulsive need of an individual to engage in a certain activity or use a substance. Alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive overeating, workaholism, and compulsive over exercise are all examples of addiction.

The use of a substance or engaging in the activity creates a feeling of euphoria, or a “high,” for the addicted individual. Addictions are two-pronged. On one end, the addiction is physical. The individual engages in the activity or takes in the substance to get the rush of brain chemicals needed to feel high. On the other end, the addiction is psychological. The addict needs their activity to help them cope with life, and intense anxiety is felt in the absence of their addictive substance or activity. An addict will engage in their addiction even when it’s become obvious that using the substance or engaging in the activity is against their own best interests.

Addiction is often considered a moral failing by the general public, but it is considered a disease by the medical establishment. The main overriding symptom of an addiction is loss of control. An addict reaches a point at which they can no longer control how often or how much they will engage in the activity or use the substance. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should consult with a healthcare professional as soon as possible:

  • Use of the substance or engagement in the activity stands in the way of meeting responsibilities at home or at work
  • Continuing use of the substance or behavior when it is dangerous or destructive
  • Increasing need for the substance or behavior
  • Tolerance of the substance or behavior, meaning it takes more and more of the substance or behavior to produce the desired effects or feelings
  • Attempts to stop using the substance or behavior without success
  • Withdrawal symptoms such as depression occur when use of the substance or behavior ends

Addictions generally develop out of feelings of anxiety, dread, doom, and fear. Depression and other withdrawal symptoms result when an addict stops using their substance of choice or engaging in their addictive behavior. Addictions are considered progressive, meaning that use and consequences will continue to escalate until the addict either finds recovery or dies.


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