Addiction is the habitual compulsion to use a substance, or to engage in an activity without much regard for its detrimental effects on a person's physical, mental, financial, social and spiritual well-being.

Types of addictions

Addiction can be bifurcated in two; drug addiction and behavioral addiction.

Drug addiction: A drug addict is someone who does substance abuse. This includes:

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Nicotine addiction
  • Addiction to drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth, methadone, marijuana
  • Caffeine addiction
  • Prescription drug addiction; several prescription drugs, like Vicodin, Codeine and Demerol, are extremely addictive

Behavioral Addiction: A behavioral addict is one who cannot control or stop an activity despite experiencing adverse consequences. This addiction could be of the following types:

  • Gambling addiction: When can’t stop gambling despite knowing that their gambling is hurting themselves or family.
  • Food Addiction: When one lives to eat and continuously craves for food, even when not hungry.
  • Sex Addiction: Compulsive use of pornography, masturbation, repeated sexual affairs, regular use of prostitutes are some of the signs of this addiction.
  • Internet & Computer addiction: Excessive use of the computer and internet for activities like social networking, gaming or even just surfing, to the extent that it interferes a great deal with daily life.
  • Cutting & self injury: Several people consider self harm as a way of coping with problems and this with time becomes an addiction.

Common causes of addiction

  • Though there are several factors that could lead to addiction, some of the most common ones are:
  • Addictions such as alcoholism may be inherited; sons of alcoholic fathers are more susceptible to abusing alcohol themselves.
  • People suffering from mental illness are prone to addiction to drugs and/or alcohol.
  • Companions are also considered a great influence for addiction. You are more likely to become an addict, if living in the company of one.
  • Emotional disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder often increase the risk of substance abuse and addictive behaviors.
  • At many a times the substance itself leads to addictions. This is mostly in the case of highly addictive drugs like heroin, cocaine, and meth.
  • Individuals who have experienced sexual, psychological, emotional or physical abuse are more likely to become addicts.

Symptoms of addiction

  • Irresponsible behaviour in school, at home or at work.
  • Craving or compulsion to use a substance or perform an activity despite the risk or danger involved.
  • Increased use of the substance to achieve the same effect or sensation.
  • When their abuse or behaviour is stopped, they experience symptoms of withdrawal like irritability, anxiety, shakes, and nausea.

If you can detect at least 3 of the above symptoms, for a period of 12 month or so, in a person know then, that the person could be suffering from addiction and may hence require immediate medical attention.

There are no definite cures for addictions. Yet treatment and counseling can help an addict to come to terms with their addiction and learn how to overcome the same. Change is possible, but only with the right treatment and constant support from families, friends and counselors.

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