The term addiction refers to a chronic pattern of behavior that continues despite the direct, or indirect, negative consequences that result from the behavior. Addiction is characterized by a craving for more of the drug or behavior, increased tolerance to exposure, and withdrawal symptoms, in the absence of the stimulus. Many drugs and behaviors that provide pleasure, or relief from pain, pose a risk of addiction.
For example, a tobacco abuser user may proceed to smoke even after being diagnosed with emphysema or cancer. Or a coke addict might still continue to want the drug even after being caught trading for cocaine in a lousy neighborhood.
Addiction can occur in two ways: as a physical effect or through the mind.
Physical dependency is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that appear with sudden, discontinued use. Some drugs do induce physical dependence without being addictive. Many non-addictive prescription drugs should not be suddenly stopped for this reason.
Often with a physical attachment, the abuser will go through physical withdrawal effects after he or she stops the use of the abused substance. This is very common with opiates, like narcotic pain reducing drugs or heroin. Different substances that can cause physical repercussions on withdrawal are alcohol, barbiturates (several out-of-use classes of sleeping medications), tobacco products and benzos (Ativan, Valium, Xanax, Antidepressants, etc.)
In some cases, the withdrawal repercussions may result in major uncontrollable spasms, such as in the case with benzodiazepines . People having a physical dependency on an addictive substance will often take it, not to gain satisfaction after a period of extended use, but merely to decrease withdrawal symptoms. Physical dependency is occasionally described as as physiological tolerance.
Psychological addictions can theoretically form for any rewarding behavior, or as a means to habitually avoid some undesired activity. Typically they only do so, to a clinical level, in individuals who have emotional, social, or psychological dysfunctions.
Psychological addiction affects addicts differently in that a addict will use a specific substance more for the contentment that the user first takes from it more than any other aspect of the drug's effects. The substance in use will typically affect the the addict's brain chemistry and cause the release of pleasure increasing chemicals that will additionally enforce the further use of the drug. This results in a periodic process that the abuser learns is extremely difficult to stop.
Several models have been created to explain addiction:
- The moral model – addictions are the result of human weakness/defects of character
- The disease model – addiction is a physical illness
- The genetic model – some people are genetically predisposed to addiction
- The cultural model – the influence of culture is the strong determinant in addiction
- The habit model – addiction is nothing more than another word for habit
- The blended model – considers elements of all the other models, treating each case individually
The Addiction cycle
The biological chemicals pertaining to the user's psychological aspects are commonlydopamine, serotonin and related endorphins. Now let us take coke as an example. The addict will administer a small amount of cocaine, which as a result will dilate the related level of dopamine throughout the user's brain thus creating a very intense sense of enjoyment. But what goes up must go down, thus as the substance wanes, the abuser will become unhappy or melancholy and will thus compel themselves to repeat, indefinitely, the habit.
Even after this pattern is inadvertently begun it will require increasing amounts of the chemical to fully produce the wanted reaction as the brain becomes accustomed to the abused substance. The brain processes will change intensity and the addict will never again be able to become as "high" as he or she did in the beginning and he or she spends what is left of their personal resources pursuing the next great high without any results. With continuous bulk usage the desirable consequences of the substance will vanish and the undesirable results will be all that the drug addict feels.
In reality, it's not only addictive drugs that some people might find themselves uncontrollably addicted to. Practices like gambling, browsing the Internet, careless sex, pornography , a person's habit of work and even proactive non-abusive activities like moderate exercise may also aid in the production of the endorphins in the brain that often trigger compulsive habits of action.
If you or a relative or a close friend has a unspoken yet suspected addiction and seeks to put an end to it, you should quickly find medical treatment. In some cases simply discovering that you have come to depend upon a drug or action is all that is required for an addict to enforce the modifications necessary to put a stop to the habit in question. In other instances more firm strategies are what is needed, for example, establishment of a 12-step plan, or a period of recovery in a rehabilitative program can allow the person to remain drug-free.
The most imperative requirement in trying to get over an addiction is support from friends and loved ones and staying clear of people and desires that can encourage relapse again. With a good ethical sense and strength addictions CAN be completely overcome.
Twelve-step programs are primarily found in the USA and Canada, and aid in the recovery of their members from addiction, with the help of the faith-based Twelve Steps. The first twelve-step program was Alcoholics Anonymous. The success rate of this program encouraged many others to adapt its’ model to different types of addiction. Below is a partial list of the many available twelve-step programs.
- ACoA - Adult Children of Alcoholics
- ADD-Anonymous - for people suffering from ADD
- DA - Debtors Anonymous
- CoDA - Codependents Anonymous
- GA - Gamblers Anonymous
- GamAnon - family groups of gamblers
- NA - Narcotics Anonymous
- OA - Overeaters Anonymous
- SA - Sexaholics Anonymous
- SIA - Survivors of Incest Anonymous
- SLAA - Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
- WA - Workaholics Anonymous