Symptoms of Addiction

  • The cardinal symptom of addiction is the inability to limit use of a substance or activity beyond need leading to clinically significant impairment.
  • There is a craving or compulsion to use the substance or activity.
  • Recurrent use of the drug or activity escalates to achieve the desired effect, indicating tolerance.
  • Attempts to stop usage produce symptoms of withdrawal—irritability, anxiety, shakes, nausea.
  • Recurrent use of the substance or activity impairs work, social, and family responsibilities, creates psychological impairments and interpersonal problems, has negative effects on health, mood, self-respect, exacerbated by the effects of the specific substance itself.

There are many symptoms created by the specific substance/activity that is used.

All addictions have the capacity to induce feelings of shame and guilt, a sense of hopelessness, and feelings of failure. In addition, anxiety and depression are common conditions among those with substance and behavioral addictions.

Recent Posts on Addiction

Mental Health Screening Wouldn't Have Saved Germanwings 9525

By Jean Kim M.D. on March 30, 2015 in Culture Shrink
Screening must balance concerns of rare high-risk cases versus the vast majority of functional people with mental illness trying to overcome stigma and judgment

One Key to Happiness, Success, and Resilience

By Sherry Hamby Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in The Web of Violence
What is your goal in life? To be happy? Successful? Resilient? How about “psychologically regulated"? That last one might not be a popular response to the question I posed, but it should be. And I will tell you why.

Say ‘No’ to the Fiction of Brain Diseases

During my lifetime I have witnessed the fall of Freudian psychiatry and the ascension of molecular psychiatry. Unfortunately, we have gone from the frying pan into the fire. We need to restore psychiatry where it belongs. The psychotherapy of character is an art and a science that bridges the old divide between psychotherapy and the brain.

Can Healthy Living Reduce Cancer Risk? (Part One of Two)

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Media Spotlight
According to available statistics, roughly fourteen million people worldwide were newly diagnosed with cancer in 2012 alone. That same year saw about eight million cancer deaths. How many of those deaths might have been prevented using available medical knowledge about cancer risks? And how many more cancer deaths can we expect over the next three decades?

The Suicide-Mass Murder Connection: A Growing Epidemic

By Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. on March 30, 2015 in Wicked Deeds
Negative and alienating social forces have made suicide the new murder as frustrated and fearful Americans turn their anger onto themselves and take their own lives in unprecedented numbers. These same social forces also explain the sharp rise in mass public shootings as fatalistic individuals increasingly kill themselves and others in catastrophic acts of violent rage.

A Surprising Ingredient to Make Your Relationship Last

You'll be surprised by this key ingredient to make your marriage work.

Misdiagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, Part II

A case study illustrating comorbidity and distinctions between bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and attention deficit disorder.

Mental Illness Among Nurses

By Scott Haas on March 29, 2015 in Shrink in the Kitchen
Workplace Stress: Identification and Intervention. Pilots, yes. And let's look at other professions that are also down-to-earth.

No Substitute for “Real” Relationships

Studies confirm that things, money, material riches are not the solution to human longing. Despite unprecedented affluence, health care, and technological advances, few--even among the best off elites--claim to be truly satisfied. What really matters requires riches of the heart, riches of the spirit.

Could Your Therapist Help You Solve This?

By Donna Barstow on March 28, 2015 in Ink Blots Cartoons
Don't be afraid to ask your therapist the hard questions, even when they're personal, passionate, and somewhat embarrassing.

Changing the ‘No Casserole’ Response to Mental Illness

A mother of two who is active in the International Bipolar Foundation shared a story the other day. When her youngest daughter was diagnosed with diabetes, friends called, sent cards and flowers, brought food, and posted encouraging Facebook messages.

Understanding Transgender Reality

In February, at the annual International Institute of Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) symposium, I was honored to hear Ryan Sallans, an international speaker, transgender man and author of the book Second Son, speak.

Why Sleepy Shopping May Lead to a Bigger Waistline

By Nicole Avena Ph.D. on March 27, 2015 in Food Junkie
Research suggests that combing the aisles of the supermarket with drooping eyelids may have unintended consequences for your pantry and possibly your diet.

Addiction or Dependency? Does it Matter?

Many of my patients often ask me, “What’s the difference between being addicted to prescription pain medications versus being dependent?” To help shed light on this important topic, I’d like to examine each classification.

Changing Our Perspectives on Mental Illness and Health

Addicts and those with co-occurring disorders such as depression, anxiety, or PTSD are frequently overwhelmed by shame. This is not just an internal issue of being ashamed of past behaviors.

What Parents Can’t Do

More than twice as many states required parental consent for mental health treatment than for substance abuse treatment.

Irrationality of A.A.?

My friend recently forwarded me the April 2015 Atlantic Magazine article “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous” by Gabrielle Glaser. If I did not have personal and professional experience with alcoholism and in treating alcoholics, then I imagine I would not have felt such a need to respond to this article.

Are You a Promiscuous Shopper?

I’ve been known to unashamedly grab something off a shelf if I knew it would make me happy for a few months, a few weeks, even—dare I admit it—a few days. That’s the kind of loose shopper I am.

How Drug Addiction Impacts Infant Care

By Molly S. Castelloe Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in The Me in We
Drug abuse short circuits neural connections between child and caregiver.

Why AA is Bad Science…and What It Means for Treatment

Why then is AA’s 12-step model the “go to” treatment choice for most Americans? The answer is simple—for most of its history, AA really was the only treatment available for addicts and alcoholics.

In at the Sharp End

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in In Excess
Belonophilia refers to the deriving of sexual pleasure and arousal from pins or needles. Although media stories relating to ‘needle fetishes’ appear to be relatively rare, clinical and medical case studies in the academic literature are almost non-existent. So, what do we know psychologically about this apparently rare sexual fetish?

Racism: Our Collective Complicity, Denial and Naiveté

To honestly confront the psychological illness of racism, America needs a true mirror, one that reflects our light and our shadow; one that provokes a real moral and spiritual awakening.

Is Digital Life Risky?

By Nigel Barber Ph.D. on March 24, 2015 in The Human Beast
Young people who grew up with digital technologies and cannot conceive of a life without the Internet, digital games, and social media are sometimes called “digital natives” whereas older generations who acquired these technologies as adults are “digital immigrants.” Digital natives have many advantages but “addiction” to screens has its critics.

Yes, You Can Get Addicted to Exercise

For approximately 3 percent of the population, striving to stay fit does them more harm than good.

Work Meetings in a Bar?

Holding work meetings in a bar disadvantages some people

Is A Bad MarrIage Dangerous To Your Health?

Is an alienated spouse a matter of life or death?

Addicted to Being Right!

I’ve found that even the best fighters – the proverbial smartest guys in the room – can break their addiction to being right by getting hooked on oxytocin-inducing behavior instead. Connecting and bonding with others trumps conflict. The more you learn about other peoples’ perspectives, the more likely you are to feel empathy for them.

The Politicization of Mental Health

By David J Ley Ph.D. on March 22, 2015 in Women Who Stray
Shootings, deaths and tragedies involving mental illness fill our news every day. Politicians are talking about mental health more than ever before. But, most political efforts to reform these issues ignore the deep underlying issues of funding, regulatory complexity and access which inhibit real reform.

Book Review: Wisdom from the Couch

By Ryan Howes PhD, ABPP on March 22, 2015 in In Therapy
Dr. Jennifer Kunst shares the warmer, friendlier side of Kleinian psychology in this interview and book review.

So You Think You Are In Recovery? Maybe Not.

Does you recovery contain these 10 components?