“Being abnormally tolerant to and dependent on something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming (especially alcohol or narcotic drugs)”
The above is a dictionary definition of addiction. Although tolerance to, and physical dependence upon a substance, is not the medical definition of addiction. Which is:
“an addiction is a chronic neurobiologic disorder that has genetic, psychosocial, and environmental dimensions and is characterized by one of the following: the continued use of a substance despite its detrimental effects, impaired control over the use of a drug (compulsive behavior), and preoccupation with a drug’s use for non-therapeutic purposes (i.e. craving the drug).” (source – Wikipedia)
Addiction is very often associated with anti social behaviour, as the addict often needs to steal to fund his or her particular addiction. In fact addiction is now one of the most costly problems for the United States, especially in view of the fact that addiction is progressive, and will continue to get worse unless, and until, suitable treatment is sought and undertaken. Even having made the decision to quit, many addicts fall by the wayside and take many attempts before eventual success.
Furthermore once addicted, even if successful in coming off a substance, an addict is still addicted, and many require help for many years if not for life. Most of us are aware of the alcoholics introduction at their meetings. “Hi, I’m (name), and I’m an alcoholic”.
It’s a massive problem, and it is now being recognised that it is not just the physical dependence upon a substance, but the psychological dependence, which is probably the more important. The mind is an amazingly powerful thing. If your mind tells you that you need a certain thing to function then that’s what will happen. You will move heaven and earth to get hold of that thing, if you have to beg, borrow, steal, and lie to do so.
Anyone can get addicted to an incredible variety of things. We automatically think of drugs and alcohol when we think of addiction. And it’s true that alcohol and drugs are probably the most commonly abused substances.
However, it can just as easily be shopping, gambling, sex, food, internet, even work. Every one of these addictions can be equally as destructive to an addict and their family. They are just as pre-occupied with getting their next “fix” to the oblivion of everything else around them. Fatal consequences are unfortunately not uncommon.
Any form of addiction is an outward manifestation that someone is is in deep trouble and requires prompt treatment. Addiction is a terrible, debilitating condition, but the good news is that it is treatable. There are many places to get help, of course the addict must in the first instance want that help. That is the first stage toward recovery.
Treatment for addiction takes many forms, and will depend upon the nature of the addiction, and the person themselves. It can involve therapy, medication, self-help groups, or a combination of all these. The most important thing is to recognise the symptoms early, and seek treatment at the first opportunity.