Addiction is a condition in which a person becomes used to in-taking a substance,like alochol or performing an activity (e.g. sex, wagering) that he/she may initially find pleasurable but over the time, his dependency on the substance/activity becomes compulsive and starts interfering with the ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, health or personal life. People who develop an addiction are many a times not aware that their behavior is out of control and that it is causing problems for themselves and others.
Addiction can be described in many ways including physical and psychological. It can develop from activities such as drinking alcohol, taking opioids, wagering, having sex, eating and Internet browsing. More often than not, addictions begin when people find certain activities emotionally or physically pleasurable but with time they feel a powerful urge to carry out these activities again to recreate the 'high'. As a result, this develops into a repetitive cycle that becomes very hard to break.
Any kind of addiction impacts neural circuits of the brain, that can modulate the brain reward system and in turn the brain experiences pleasure. Typically addiction is a result of a combination of physical, emotional and circumstantial factors, such as the following:
Family history - People whose parents have had addictions, are more likely to develop an addiction themselves.
Depression - People with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety have high propensity to become addict.
Social circle - People with friends at college or work who are addicted, have greater chances of becoming involved in addictive activities.
Childhood Trauma - Children who experience family conflicts or sexual abuse are vulnerable to developing an addiction.
Stress - Research has proven that there is a strong interlink between addictions and stress.
In a few cases, family members or friends raise concern about the patient’s addiction behavior. In many cases, a patient himself is aware of the addiction problem when it comes to activities like wagering, sex or smoking. The psychiatrist or specialized addiction counselor will ask several questions, including the frequency of substance usage, personal habits, other aspects of his life to determine the symptoms of addiction. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) criteria - As per DSM, a patient diagnosed with substance dependence (an addiction) must have atleast three of the following conditions:
Tolerance - the substance has less effect on the patient because their body has developed tolerance. They need more and more of it to get the same pleasure.
There are physical/psychological withdrawal symptoms, or the patient takes the substance to avoid experiencing withdrawal.
The patient frequently takes higher-than-intended doses of the substance.
The patient often tries to quit or cut down.
More and more time is spent getting hold of the substance, using it, or recovering from its effects.
The patient’s opioid use causes him/her to give up social, occupational or recreational activities.
Even though patients know it causes psychological/physical problems, they continue taking it.