What is addiction?


Addiction is a very complex problem which affects an individual in many different ways including their physical and mental health and if left over any period of time it can have a dire effect on their social life and cause problems in any relationships and family.

Addictions are impossible to control

When people become addicted to something they will tell you that it is impossible to control the addiction, take smoking for example, anyone who has smoked will know how hard it is to give up and resist lighting up that first cigarette in the morning. You will also know how you crave for one during the times when you cannot smoke such as in an aeroplane or at the theatre.

Becoming dependant

Dependency towards something can happen in many different ways and with varying degrees of intensity, some people for example who are addicted to alcohol or substances over a prolonged period of time may experience very few problems while others find that they cannot control how much of the substance or alcohol they need and dependency quickly escalates.

The different stages of addiction

All addictions no matter what it is will take time to develop into a habit and to become dependant on, no one will purposely set out to become addicted to something and a lot of the time addiction and dependency will creep up on the unsuspecting individual. Nearly all addictions will go through three main stages until reaching total dependency on something. These stages are:

  • Emotional addiction – The person will feel they need “something” for emotional or social comfort or excitement, and will rely on “something” to bring them that feeling. The person will feel better for a time but then when they get in an uncomfortable position again they begin to rely on that “something” e.g. alcohol, cigarettes, substances to bring them relief again.
  • The mental addiction – Within a very short time the person becomes hooked on getting relief in certain situations which then expands into daily routine, before long even the smallest upset in daily life will have the person scurrying back to the thing they have come to rely on.
  • The physical addiction – As the body and mind become addicted to the act, it becomes a physical and mental necessity. Over a gradual period of time the body will become used to the act and more is needed to get the same effect it used to. Tolerance will develop as our body and mind becomes used to the small doses it receives and then greater doses are needed on a much more frequent level to get the same effect.

At this stage a person can feel guilty about what they are doing and the fact that they cannot control it and then the whole process starts over again as they turn to the act to alleviate the guilt they feel, they will then go round and round in a vicious circle.

Addictions and addictive behaviours

Addictions can be anything besides the most common of smoking, drinking and drugs. Increasingly people are becoming addicted to chocolate, food, computer games, chat rooms, pornography and sex. You can become addicted to anything if you come to rely on it as part of your everyday life and it begins to expand and take up more and more of your daily routine.

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