The term ‘addiction’ comes from a Latin word that means ‘enslaved’ or ‘bound.’ If you or a loved one has ever struggled to overcome an addiction, you’ll understand why addiction is like being enslaved.
What is Addiction?
Addiction is an obsessive or habitual need for using a substance or performing certain habits. It’s been classified as a mental illness that could result in social, health, and economic problems.
The diagnosis of addiction was formally recognized as a personality disorder, but it’s now regarded as a clinical syndrome resulting from other underlying conditions.
Addictions are said to be impacted by environmental factors and social determinants. In the clinical context, addiction is associated with drug abuse. Drugs such as opiates, cocaine, cannabis, and amphetamine have been at the center of substance use problems such as addiction.
An addiction is a disorder associated with using substances like narcotics such as heroin or intoxicants like alcohol, or more moderate stimulants, such as nicotine or caffeine.
Experts have described addiction as a biopsychosocial disorder. Which means it can be treated from a biological point of view or a psychological lens. Addiction can be characterized by the repeated use of drugs or customary practice in gambling, watching porn, or playing video games. Addictions could carry a negative impact on you or others around you.
Types Of Addiction
Experts have classified addition into two main categories: chemical and behavioral addiction. Chemical addiction relates to the use of substances, while behavioral addiction refers to addiction that includes compulsive behaviors, regardless of the lack of real benefit.
The most common addiction is to narcotics and alcohol. Statistics show that approximately 1 in every 10 Americans has an addiction to both alcohol and drugs. People with drug addiction are said to be generally addicted to alcohol.
The prevalent drug addictions include:
- nicotine from tobacco
- THC from marijuana
- opioid or narcotics and pain relievers
Besides these, other familiar addictions include:
- caffeine found in tea, coffee, and other beverages
It’s important to note that there’s a thin line between an obsession and an addiction. Some social behaviors or habits may seem like addictions, but in general, an addict will negatively react when they don’t get their fix.
For example, someone addicted to alcohol can experience withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and headaches if they don’t take a drink. If you’re unsure about your or a loved one’s habits, places like the Jackson House Addiction and Recovery Center and many others like them can help with professional advice.
Causes Of Addiction
For many years addiction has been believed to be primarily caused by alcohol and narcotics. But more recent data shows that other pleasurable activities such as sex, gambling, exercising, and shopping could also lead to addiction.
You’re generally safe from addiction if you handle all things in moderation. Too much of anything has never been a good idea. It’s advantageous to understand the causes of addiction. However, it’s more crucial to look into how it works.
How Addiction Works
It’s essential to appreciate how addiction works to be able to understand it better. Here are a few eye-openers:
The Reward System
The reward system is the satisfaction you get when you do something you thoroughly enjoy. Addiction interferes with the regular brain faculty, especially in the reward system.
When you do anything you find delightful, be it a boat cruise, drinking with your friends, or doing cocaine, the reward system dispenses dopamine, a neurotransmitter, as well as other chemicals.
Dopamine is believed to reinforce the brain’s connection to certain things and feelings of pleasure. This could push you to solicit for those things again later.
Cravings and Tolerance
The longing to experience pleasure over and over could trigger cravings for a substance or behavior. This is true, especially when you’re in an environment with the same cues, like a reception where people are drinking. Such cravings often serve as the first sign of addiction.
If you continue using a substance or habitually engaging in a particular behavior, your brain could produce more dopamine amounts.
Ultimately, it could recognize that there’s sufficient dopamine in your brain and may start to bring about lesser amounts.
However, the problem could arise when your brain’s reward system still needs a large amount of dopamine to function normally.
This will mean that you’ll need to use more of the substance to get enough dopamine for normal function. Simply put, your tolerance levels could keep getting higher.
Disinterest in Other Activities
When you become addicted to something, typically, you begin to lose interest in other things, including those you once enjoyed.
This is reported to be since your brain no longer provides sufficient dopamine in response to general triggers, like sexual intercourse or playing golf.
When you decide to stop using a substance or engaging in a particular activity, you may still feel like you need them to feel good.
Signs and Symptoms of Addiction
Signs and symptoms are anomalies that can indicate a possible medical condition. The victim of addiction typically feels symptoms, while the people around them can see signs.
You can never know for sure if you, or someone else, maybe experiencing addiction problems. Everyone could show unusual symptoms when battling addiction, but there’re general signs that could indicate an addiction problem.
If you or a loved one are facing an addiction problem, you’re likely to experience the following signs and symptoms:
Signs Of Addiction
- You could show a lack of self-control over something.
- You may have an almost unbearable longing for a substance or behavior.
- You might be dismissive of the fact that your behavior could be causing problems.
- You could have a lack of emotional response to your behavior.
- Being secretive about the behavior or substance you’re addicted to is a clear sign that there’s a problem.
- Lying about the behavior or substance is also an obvious sign.
- Stealing could be a sign of many things, including an addiction. People with addiction problems sometimes resort to stealing so that they feed their habits.
- Financial inconsistency could be a sign of addictions such as gambling. Compulsive gamblers sometimes have large sums of money and no money at all in no time.
- Drug and behavioral addicts usually become alienated from their usual friends. They tend to switch from their regular friends to new ones who’re either in their addiction circles.
- Notice also their phone conversations. Odd conversations may be a red flag.
- Unexplained movements with a sense of urgency may also a sign of an addiction problem. When an addict has got to go, they have to go.
- Addicts usually possess their tools of the trade. Drug addicts, on the one hand, could have paraphernalia like cigarette papers, pipes, weighing scales, and so forth.Porn addicts, on the other hand, typically have extensive porn collections. Sex addicts could have a suspicious amount of sex toys. And so forth.
- Gambling addicts may have an unreasonable propensity to borrow money.
Symptoms Of Addiction
- Addicted people usually have a higher tolerance for the substance or behavior to which they may be addicted. They, therefore, tend to want more and more to get the satisfaction they need.
- When they don’t get what they’re addicted to, addicts commonly suffer withdrawal symptoms. These are often the exact contrast of the desired effects of the addictive behavior or substance.Some indications of withdrawal often include appetite changes, mood changes, fatigue, irritability, nausea, restlessness, muscle pain, and many more.
- You may be incapable of staying away from a substance or stopping a behavior if you’re addicted.
- Being unable to take part in any other social or professional activities other than the addictive behavior or substance is a symptom of addiction.
- Severe mood swings such as from happiness to sadness or from excitement to anxiety are also symptoms of addiction.
- Irregular sleeping patterns or insomnia could be a red flag.
- Extreme energy changes from being really tired to being very energetic are possible symptoms.
- Weight loss or weight gain could be another symptom of addiction.
- Substance addiction could result in sudden relentless coughing or sniffling.
- The demeanor of someone with an addiction problem sometimes seems as if they’re unwell.
- Failure to concentrate properly may be another symptom of addiction.
- The pupils of the eyes could seem smaller or bigger than usual when you’re suffering from addiction.
Addictions could easily affect your daily life negatively. Relapse and remission are pretty common in people with addiction problems. They’re said to worsen over time.
And they usually lead to serious health problems and could result in outcomes like financial distress or bankruptcy. Social issues are also not uncommon with addictions.
If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, hope is not lost. There are possible treatment plans and cures for addiction.
Treatment Options for Addiction
Dealing with addiction on your own can be a mammoth task. Without support from professionals and loved ones, you might not control bad habits or substance abuse.
Treatment For Chemical Addiction
Chemical addiction usually involves professional detoxification. However, this alone may not treat addiction, but it could help manage symptoms such as withdrawal.
After safe and successful detoxification, there’re many other options that doctors typically consider. These include the following:
Rehabilitation is also known as residential treatment. It involves patients being admitted into a treatment facility where medical professionals give them attention and care.
These institutions usually have various programs depending on the admitted patients’ conditions.
The duration of each program is also dependent on the severity of the addiction. Some rehab programs could take weeks, while others may last for months.
Most rehab treatments include components of the following treatment plans:
- support groups
Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy. It’s a method used to help people suffering from a variety of mental illnesses or emotional challenges.
Psychotherapy may help reduce or manage symptoms so that a patient may function better. It could also increase a person’s well-being and recovery.
Psychotherapy is beneficial for people who might have developed an addiction because of stress-inducing problems.
A rehab therapist may help patients explore some of their substance abuse causes. Therapists then come up with suggestions for better ways of coping when dealing with stress or other challenges.
Medicines could be used to help people who are struggling with addiction. It’s believed that medication could help prevent relapses in patients suffering from addiction involving substances like nicotine, alcohol, or opioids.
These medications could work in several different ways, but they usually help lessen withdrawal symptoms. They could also reduce cravings.
Specialists recommend using medication with other treatment plans such as therapy to deal with the addiction’s root causes.
In a support group, people with shared experiences or concerns give each other reassurance, encouragement, empathy, and advice. Support groups have been said to be effective in helping treat addiction patients.
Most support groups are anonymous to encourage participants to open up freely. They often depend on self-help as a method of treatment.
When an addict gets to hear about how others have been dealing with a similar problem, they may get the courage and energy to fight off their addiction.
Support groups positively affect people dealing with addiction, but experts have highlighted that they may not treat addiction independently.
Treatments For Behavioral Addictions
Just like with chemical addiction, many other factors may lead to behavioral addictions. Treatment plans can therefore vary, but therapy usually is the first recommendation.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is said to be the most effective type of therapy for behavioral addictions. CBT concentrates on the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that could lead to distress.
It studies them and reframes them in real-time. CBT is believed to reduce the yearning for addictive behavior if it’s combined with other coping skills.
Other types of therapy may also help to deal with underlying issues that lead to behavioral addiction.
Support groups and other kinds of peer support may also help reduce behavioral addiction. They, however, also need to be used in conjunction with other treatment plans like therapy.
Some studies have suggested that some antidepressants could help address addictive behaviors. However, this would need to be in consultation with doctors who will evaluate such additions’ root causes.
Other Treatment Options
One of the first steps in the treatment of addiction is recognition and acceptance of the problem. The treatment plans and recovery could be delayed if a patient is unaware that they have an addiction problem.
Others around you may prompt treatment, but it becomes difficult to help you if you don’t realize your addiction problem.
Medical professionals usually evaluate symptoms of patients suffering from addiction before they prescribe a treatment plan.
Treatment plans could depend on the severity of the habit, but all forms have a silver lining if help is sought on time.
Addiction is a complicated condition that affects brain function and behavior. However, this is treatable, and there’s no particular treatment that fits everyone. Effective treatment involves many factors, including management of the root cause of the addiction.