What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.

The word addiction is used in several different ways. One definition describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect, otherwise known as a tolerance. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). An alcoholic walking into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.

However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn't what matters; it's the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.

When referring to any kind of addiction, it is important to recognize that its cause is not simply a search for pleasure and that addiction has nothing to do with one's morality or strength of character. Experts debate whether addiction is a "disease" or a true mental illness, whether drug dependence and addiction mean the same thing, and many other aspects of addiction. Such debates are not likely to be resolved soon. But the lack of resolution does not preclude effective treatment.

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Recent posts on Addiction

Halloween and Fancy Dress

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Vote Yes for Medical or Recreational Marijuana Legalization

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Source: David Wiss

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By Nicole Avena Ph.D. on October 26, 2016 in Food Junkie
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Pharmaceutical Lobbyists Are Fighting Pricing Regulations

By Richard Taite on October 25, 2016 in Ending Addiction for Good
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), has long been one of the biggest and most powerful lobbies in Washington.

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By Lance Dodes M.D. on October 24, 2016 in The Heart of Addiction
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By Richard Taite on October 21, 2016 in Ending Addiction for Good
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By Greta Gleissner LCSW on October 18, 2016 in Bottom's Up
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Medical Marijuana and Pregnancy

By Ira J. Chasnoff M.D. on October 15, 2016 in Aristotle's Child
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The DEA is Lowering Opioid Production in the U.S

By Richard Taite on October 14, 2016 in Ending Addiction for Good
The DEA’s decision to limit the amount of opioid painkillers produced in the United States is a prudent step.

Do Shame & "Rock Bottom" Decrease Dysregulated Behavior? No!

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By The Book Brigade on October 13, 2016 in The Author Speaks
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Kratom:The Legal High That Treats Chronic Pain and Addiction

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Legalizing Marijuana in California

By Richard Taite on October 07, 2016 in Ending Addiction for Good
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Can Cycling Be Addictive?

By Mark D. Griffiths Ph.D. on October 06, 2016 in In Excess
There has been an increasing amount of research into exercise addiction and it's sub-types. One such type is 'cycling addiction' but can it really be classed as an addiction?

What Is the Link Between Alcohol and Creative Genius?

By Tom Shroder on October 05, 2016 in Acid Test
My author grandfather said he couldn't write when he wasn't drinking. It might have won him a Pulitzer Prize. It definitely killed him.