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What is addiction?

Addiction is a physiological and physical phenomenon. It is an inability to stop using any substance, chemical, drug or activity even though it is causing physical or physiological harm. When a person is addicted to something they cannot control how they use a substance or partake in an activity. They become dependent on it.

Addiction does not only mean dependence on a substance such as heroin, cocaine or alcohol. If a person cannot stop taking a particular drug or chemical it is called substance dependence. Addiction can be of anything. Addiction also involves the inability to stop partaking in activities like gambling, eating or working. Addiction also involves the overuse of prescribed opioid painkillers.

People start using a substance or drug voluntarily first, however after sometime addiction takes over and reduces self-control. And a person becomes so dependent on it that they cannot cope with normal daily life.

What is the Difference Between Misuse and Addiction?

Every misuse of a substance is not an addiction. Misuse refers to excessive, nontherapeutic or incorrect use of a substance. Whereas addiction is a long term phenomenon where a person is unable to cease or moderate a substance intake.

What Are the Risks of Developing an Addiction?

The environment plays an important role in developing an addiction. Child life, education, family background, a healthy environment is important in reducing the risk of addiction. Family is another important factor, a family member with an addiction to drugs increases the chances of developing substance addiction later in life. Genes also play an important role in developing an addiction.

A person’s company is a big influence on him especially in early teenagers, which plays an important role in developing an addiction later in life. Earlier a person starts using a substance, the more likely it becomes that they will develop the addiction. The mode of delivery is also an important factor, smoking or injecting a substance means the brain register their effect in seconds but loses it quickly. Which makes people try it again to feel the same effect of euphoria they experienced before.

Stress plays the most important role in developing an addiction. A person with stress, anxiety or depression are at high risk, they turn to alcohol or marijuana to relieve their stress.

What are the symptoms of addiction?

The main symptom is the pattern of use, which leads to clinically significant impairment. Doctors usually diagnose addiction under the category of substance abuse and addictive disorder. Symptoms may vary according to different addictions. Listed below are some of the common symptoms.

  • Difficulty in stop using a substance
  • Powerful or uncontrollable craving of a substance.
  • Some substance causes appetite changes; they can increase or decrease the appetite.
  • Losing interest in other activities that do not involve the harmful substance
  • Relationship difficulties especially close ones who identify their dependency.
  • Noticeable changes in appearance especially the abandonment of self-hygiene.
  • psychological problem anxiety and depression.
  • Denial, a large number of people with addictions are not aware that they have the problem

What are common causes of addiction?

There is a wide range of reasons why a person might start taking the mind-altering substance or engage in an activity to a harmful extent. listed below are some of the common reasons behind people falling prey to addictive substances.

  • Feel good
  • Relieve stress
  • Relieve depression
  • Relieve anxiety
  • Relieve sadness
  • Get over someone death
  • Get over a breakup
  • Enhance performance
  • Curiosity

Withdrawal symptoms:

An addicted person when they stop taking a substance or engaging in an activity they may experience some symptoms which makes it hard to stop.

These symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Shaking
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Insomnia

How is addiction treated?

Treatment of addiction is highly personalized and require the support of the whole community and family. Treatment of different addictions vary, each substance and behavior addiction requires different management, it may take a long time and maybe complicated.

The first step is identifying the addiction and that it has become a problem in personal life and is disrupting the quality of life. Once a person recognizes the problem and how it is affecting his quality of life then a wide range of treatments are available. For most people treatment may last for many years or for the rest of their life. They will need to abstain from the substance for a long time.

Treatment options depend on many factors including,

  • Type of addiction
  • Severity of addiction
  • Length of use
  • Effect on a person’s life
  • Effect on a person’s health
  • Physical complications
  • Psychological complications


It is usually the first step of the treatment which involves clearing the substance from the body. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in 80% of cases, the treatment clinic will use medication to prevent withdrawal symptoms. 

Counseling & Behavior Therapy 

It is the most common type of treatment following detoxification. This treatment is provided by thousands of therapists all over the US. There are different therapeutic methods of treating addiction and some of them are listed below.

  1. Cognitive behavior therapy, which involves changing the way of thinking and helping them recognize problems associated with substance use.
  2. Multi dimension family therapy helps to improve family functions around a person associated with the addiction.
  3. Motivational interviewing, which improves the person’s willingness to change and make adjustments in behavior.
  4. Motivational incentives, which encourage through positive reinforcement.

Rehabilitation Programs

Rehabilitation programs are highly effective and focus on keeping the person drug free and resuming normal functions of life.

Following are the facilities that provide a therapeutic environment,

Short term residential treatment

These types of facilities focus on detoxification and counseling the patient for a longer period within the therapeutic community.

Therapeutic communities

A person seeking long term treatment for different types of substances will live in the facilities for 6 to 12 months. The community and staff are trained to help them recover from the addiction and help them to change their behavior towards the use of drugs.

Recovery housing

These facilities provide short term stay in housing to help people to engage in responsibilities. The advice on handling their finance and finding jobs. They help them to adapt them to life without substance use.

Self groups

They help people meet different individuals with the same problem. Which helps and motives them and reduces the feeling of isolation.