What is addiction?

Addiction refers to a condition in which a person indulges in a substance or an activity that is initially pleasurable but later becomes compulsive, interfering with his daily life, including his work, relationships, and health.

An addiction can be either physical things like drugs or alcohol, or abstract things such as gambling or sex. In other words, addiction can be simply understood as a substance dependence or behavioral addiction.

Sometimes, people with an addiction may not have control over their behavior-what they are doing, taking or using. They may not be aware that their bad addiction is starting to cause problems for themselves and others as well.

How to identify an addiction?

An addiction is marked by two basic qualities:

  • Excessive consumption of the addictive agents
  • The on-going use of  addictive agents despite negative effects

According to World Health Organization there are criteria of an addiction as below:

  1. Tolerance. Do you use more of the addictive agent over time?
  2. Withdrawal. Is there any withdrawal, both physically or emotionally, arising when you stop using the agent?
  3. Limited control. Do you sometimes unintentionally indulge in the addictive agent more than you would like? Does one episode lead more sometimes? Do you regret about how out of control you are the day before?
  4. Negative consequences. Have you continued to addict even when you have experienced negative consequences to your mood, self-esteem, health, job, or family?
  5. Neglected or postponed activities. Have you ever give up on other concerns or interests like social, recreational, work, or household activities because of your addiction?
  6. Significant time or energy spent. Is the the amount of time you spend to obtain, use, conceal, plan, or recover from your use significant?
  7. Desire to cut down. Do you ever have the thought of cutting down or controlling your use? Is there any unsuccessful attempts done?

Can addiction be treated?

There are effective treatments for addiction, thanks to which people can recover and lead normal, productive lives.

The first step is admitting the problem. The addiction can be not washed away if the person keeps denying having a problem. Other times, addiction arises when an individual lacks understanding about substance and misuse it. The key is also recognition of the problem.

Next, the doctor will conduct a formal assessment of symptoms.  This is to determine if there is a  substance use disorder. Most of the cases, even the severe substance use disorder, people can benefit from treatment.

An addiction leaves negative effects on many aspects of a person’s life, thus, there must be multiple types of treatment. The most effective set of treatment is usually a combination of medication and individual or group therapy.

Medications can be used to cope with the cravings and symptoms of withdrawal. Meanwhile, therapy can help addicted people understand their behavior, get motivations, build higher self-esteem, relieve stress and deal with other mental health problems.

Treatment may also include:

  • Hospitalization
  • Therapeutic communities
  • Outpatient programs

Self-help groups and family members support are also useful.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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