What is Addiction?

Addiction is a devastating condition that can affect indivisibles, friends and family. Addiction can be to a variety of things; alcohol, drugs, food, spending gambling, the internet, sex and many other things. The addictive cycle can be broken and people can recover. Understanding the physiological, emotional, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of addiction is essential to the recovery process. Below is a brief description of a number of addictions.

Treatment Statistics

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) National Survey on Drug Use and Health,1 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (9.3 percent of persons aged 12 or older). Of these, only 2.6 million—11.2 percent of those who needed treatment—received it at a specialty facility.


There is a continuum of alcohol abuse. This ranges from use, abuse, dependence and addiction. There are many physical and psychological factors that come into play when trying to define where someone may fall on the continuum. Tolerance and Withdrawl symptoms are common diagnostic criteria. The difficult question for people to ask themselves is this; “am I in control or is the alcohol in control?”

Common signs of alcoholism include:

  • Being unable to control alcohol consumption
  • Craving alcohol when you’re not drinking
  • Putting alcohol above personal responsibilities
  • Feeling the need to keep drinking more
  • Spending a substantial amount of money on alcohol
  • Behaving differently after drinking

Drug addiction:

Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by compulsive, or uncontrollable, drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences and changes in the brain, which can be long lasting. These changes in the brain can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who use drugs.

Compulsive Gambling:

The Mayo Clinic has defined compulsive Gambling as an uncontrollable urge to keep gambling despite the toll it takes on your life. Gambling means that one is willing to risk something you value in the hope of getting something of even greater value.

Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs or alcohol can, leading to addiction. If you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may continually chase bets that lead to losses, hide your behavior, deplete savings, accumulate debt, or even resort to theft or fraud to support your addiction.

Compulsive gambling is a serious condition that can destroy lives. Although treating compulsive gambling can be challenging, many people who struggle with compulsive gambling have found help through professional treatment.

Recovery From Addiction:

The addictions named above are only a few of the most common addictions that people suffer from. There are many others. Often times what happens is that when a person is in treatment form one addiction, they replace it with another. Addiction needs to be treated holistically, and not just by treating the symptoms of one disorder.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can work well in helping people change behaviors and identify thoughts that effect feelings and behavioral. Nutritional counseling and lifestyle change are important to treatment of addictions. Stress management and education about alternative ways to deal with stress is critical. Group support is an important element.

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