One might be tempted to ignore a simple addiction. However, if attention is not given, it can even be life-threatening. Today, Love is All Colors analyzes addiction in details, from the definition, the causes and how to control it. Scroll on for more…
What is an addiction?
According to Medical News Today, addiction can be defined as “a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm.” Whenever we think addiction, what usually comes to mind is dependence on drugs like heroin or cocaine. But addiction is not limited to such drugs only. It also applies to any case where a person has difficulty stopping the intake of a particular medical drug like prescription medication or chemical.
We also have cases where a person is unable to stop taking part in certain activities. For instance, gambling, eating, sex or even working. This is referred to as behavioral addiction.
Most people with addictions lack control over the use of a substance or an activity and are dependent on it to cope with life.
What causes addiction
The first experience with drugs can be voluntary at first. But full addiction or uncontrollable reliance on substances and certain activities can be caused by various circumstances. There are circuits in our brains that are taken over by the substance which result in the urge to consume more of the substance or partake more in an activity for the feeling of reward.
Now, when the substance no longer gives on the same rewarding effect, one might decide to abstain from it. Unfortunately, due to the abuse of the substance or activity, one gets withdrawal symptoms. For instance, Adderall withdrawal can be very unpleasant. And in order to feel normal, one finds themselves using the substance, over and over again in order to moderate the mood and function well.
The other factor that can contribute to an addictive disorder is the type of substance. Some substances like opioids are highly addictive simply because they directly target the brain receptors.
Age, gender and weight can affect how we metabolize substances. So, those people who require large amounts of a substance to the point of intoxication may require higher amounts. This makes them more tolerant over time, hence the need to want more of the substance in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. And this is the onsen of addiction.
Why is addiction a disease
Most medical associations define addiction as a disease. Just like other diseases like cancer, addiction can be caused by behavioral, biological and environmental factors. For instance, genetics can play a big role in addiction. One thing that makes it a disease is the fact that it affects one’s brain and body functions.
Like other diseases, if left untreated, it often results in significant consequences for the individual which are both physical and mental. A simple addiction disables one’s life’s over time and can be life-threatening. For instance, people easily overdose on a combination of Xanax and alcohol.
Most people with addiction seem to have a severe chronic disorder which means it can be controlled but not cured. That’s why most of them keep relapsing. So they require a lot of support, management, and aftercare to manage the recovery process.
Luckily, just like other chronic diseases, addiction can be managed and can even be reversible with long term treatment, monitoring, and support.
Why a simple addiction can become a problem
Now what can make a simple addiction become a problem is when one begins neglecting other important areas of their life just so that they can fulfill their addiction desires. Here are some ways that addiction can become a problem:
- lack of control that can make you abandon commitments like school or work.
- when the addiction affects important relationships like family and friends
- when you start ignoring risk factors such as sharing needles or a sex addiction that makes one have sex without a condom despite the known consequences
- withdrawal symptoms that can sometimes be fatal for instance, Adderall withdrawal
- mixing drugs, for instance, Xanax and alcohol, which can cause an overdose and death
- an addiction like gambling which makes you get into debt or makes you sell or steal other people’s stuff to sustain it
- And many more…
How to overcome addiction
There are various ways to overcome addiction. A lot of effort has been put by the medical community to assist people to manage and resolve simple addiction and more complex cases. Below are some of the ways recommended:
- therapy and counseling
- drug-based treatments
- medical ways of treating withdrawal symptoms
- dealing with psychological factors that might lead to addiction such as depression.
- social and ongoing care and support to reduce relapse
Just like all illnesses, peoplr respond diffrently to treatment. Plus each substance and behavior might require differernt forms of management. So every case needs to be highly personalized. But one thing that needs to be highly prioritized is family and community support and understanding. The treatment requires a lot of patience
For more on addiction, read this article on Lamar Odom’s addiction to sex and drugs in his memoir entitled Darkness to Light.