Addiction is a condition with multiple effects, which impacts the brain and the body. This condition is caused by biology, environment, social and other factors. Addiction is not a choice. It’s not a moral failing, or a character flaw, or something that “bad people” do. Addiction is considered a disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequence. It can be an obsessive need to use a substance or an obsessive process in the case of gambling.
Addiction distresses the person and the family. It is a progressive disease that may start as a social activity. The challenge is the tolerance that the person develops and if the person needs the substance or process for the effects that gives to the person.
Addiction symptoms may be difficult to determine at the beginning stages of addiction as for a time, the behavior of an addict is often seen as normal. Someone who is addicted to alcohol or drugs may purely be seen as partying more. People who are addicted to a process, gambling, may just be perceived as blowing off some steam. But in actual fact, when examined the progression of symptoms and behaviours over time, these people are really showing signs of addiction. These symptoms and behaviours cause noticeable problems in the addict’s life.
Most people in the earlier stages of developing an addiction go through a period where they deny their addiction symptoms. They may have periods of abstinence to prove they don’t have an addiction.
Symptoms of addiction:
Denial of addictive behaviors and the existence of a problem
Hiding of the addiction behaviors
Failure when attempting to stop addiction; relapse
Strong desire, compelled to get the substance of choice – no matter what.
Fixation on addiction
Loss of control over addiction
Psychological or physiological withdrawal when not using or engaging in the addictive behaviour
Needing to engage in the addiction more and more
Feeling a loss of control
A history of abuse
Depression or another mental illness
The brain of an addicted person has likely changed over the course of their addiction. Changes in the brain’s wiring are what cause people to have intense cravings for the alcohol, drug or addictive behaviour. It is difficult to stop the compulsive behaviour. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, studies of brain imaging show that the brain changes in the areas that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory, impulse and behavior control. Addiction causes changes in the brain function that can last long after the immediate effects of the drug of choice – intoxication. Intoxication is different for each substance. Over time people with addiction build up a tolerance, meaning they need larger amounts to feel the effects.
People can develop an addiction to the following substance:
PCP, LSD and other hallucinogens
Inhalants, such as, paint thinners and glue
Opioid pain killers, such as codeine and oxycodone, heroin
Sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics (medicines for anxiety such as tranquilizers)
Cocaine, methamphetamine and other stimulants
People can develop an addiction to the following process of behaviours:
Compulsive use of social media
Compulsive sexual behaviours
All addiction will affect the person’s ability to cope with challenges and his/her environment and will have an intense need to use the addiction as a crutch to survive. Most people suffering an addiction will have a hard time controlling his/her urges to the addictive behaviour to the point that it takes over their life even when they know it will cause problems.
What to do if you have an addiction or know of someone who is affected by it.
People can recover from addiction and lead normal, productive lives
Seek professional help
Acknowledge that the problem is getting out of hand
Become more aware of the addictive symptoms
Gain strategies to overcome the addiction
Explore different ways to cope with challenges
Most people need consistent, professional, and confidential support to start their process of abstinence
Call me for a consultation to address your concerns and to take your first step to your sobriety
Only you can make the changes to deal better with any circumstances that arise.