Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

What is Addiction?

April 16, 2013 by  
Filed under Addiction

What is addiction?

Addiction is best defined when a drug user cannot stop taking a drug even they want to, no matter how hard they want to. This is called addiction. The urge or craving is too strong to control that even if a drug user knows it is causing them harm they cannot stop using. Addiction is also defined as the continued use of drugs and alcohol regardless of negative consequences to health, job, school, and relationships. Addictions are not just to drugs but can be to anything including exercise, sex, gambling, eating, food, and shopping.

When someone starts taking drugs they don’t make a plan to get addicted. The reason drug users take drugs and drinkers drink is because they like the way drugs and alcohol make them feel. They think that they can control how much and how often they take drugs and alcohol. Unfortunately, drug use and drinking changes the brain so that drug users start to need the drug or drink just to feel normal. That is when addiction happens and it can quickly spiral out of control.

Addiction can become more important than the need to eat or sleep. For parents the addiction is more important than their children, for students it’s more important than school, for couples it’s more important than their spouse, it’s more important than showering, it’s more important than doing laundry, than paying bills and slowly but surely the addiction becomes more important than living. The addiction replaces all the things the person used to enjoy. A person in their addiction will do almost anything to get their drugs and drink. They will lie, steal, cheat, and hurt people who matter to them most to keep taking the drug. It may seem like with all these negative consequences that someone with an addiction would just quit the drug use and drinking but it isn’t as easy as that and here is why:

Addiction is a brain disease. Addiction is chronic, progressive and fatal. The reason for this is because drugs change how the brain works and those changes can last a long time, even forever. The changes in the brain due to an addiction cause problems such as mood swings, memory loss, and even trouble thinking and making decisions. Addiction is a disease just like diabetes and cancer are diseases. Addiction is not a moral failing or a weakness. Addiction also can affect anyone. Addiction is inside of people from all backgrounds, rich and poor, young and old, black and white. Addiction can happen at any age but it does usually happen when a person is young.

Want to know if you have an addiction?

An addiction must meet at least 3 of the following criteria.

This is based on the criteria of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-IV) and World Health Organization (ICD-10).(1)

1. Tolerance. Do you use more alcohol or drugs over time?

2. Withdrawal. Have you experienced physical or emotional withdrawal when you have stopped using? Have you experienced anxiety, irritability, shakes, sweats, nausea, or vomiting? Emotional withdrawal is just as significant as physical withdrawal.

3. Limited Control. Do you sometimes drink or use drugs more than you would like? Do you sometimes drink to get drunk? Does one drink lead to more drinks sometimes?

4. Negative Consequences. Have you continued to use even though there have been negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or family?

5. Neglected or Postponed Activities. Have you ever put off or reduced social, recreational, work or household activities because of your use?

6. Significant Time or Energy Spent. Have you spent a significant amount of time obtaining, using, concealing, planning, or recovering from your use? Have you spend a lot of time thinking about using? Have you ever concealed or minimized your use? Have you ever thought of schemes to avoid getting caught?

7. Desire to cut down. Have you sometimes thought about cutting down or controlling your use? Have you ever made unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control your use?



2 responses to “What is Addiction?”

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