What is Addiction? Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Types


Addiction is when someone cannot stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior although it is causing psychological and physical harm.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “addiction involves complex interactions between brain circuits, genetics, the environment and individual experiences in life. Compulsive behaviors or substances are used by addicts. They do so despite harm and often continue despite adverse consequences.”

Read: Cannabis Use Disorder

What is the definition of addiction?

Addiction refers to chronic dysfunction of the central nervous system, involving motivation, reward and memory. A craving for a substance or behavior was defined as a compulsive or obsessive pursuit of “reward” without regard for consequences.

When someone is addicted they will:

  • Addicts cannot stop using substances or stop their addictive behaviors
  • Show an inability to control themselves
  • Increase their desire for the prescribed substance
  • Disregard the potential consequences of their actions
  • Do not respond emotionally

The effects of addiction on your daily life can be serious over time. Addicts are also susceptible to cycles of relapses and remissions. This can lead them to alternate between periods of intense and mild use. Unfortunately, addiction will usually worsen with time. The results can be serious, such as financial ruin and permanent health complications.

Therefore, anyone suffering from addiction should seek help. For free and confidential treatment referral information, you can contact 800-622-4357. It is the number of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They can also guide mental health and substance abuse prevention.

Addiction vs. misuse

There is a difference between drug addiction and drug misuse.

The term misuse refers to excessive or inappropriate use of a substance, which could have serious health and social consequences.

Addiction does not necessarily follow the misuse of a substance. An addiction is an unhealthy dependency on a substance, thing, or activity.

The effects of alcohol can be both euphoric and harmful, for example, when consumed heavily on a night out.

In general, such behavior does not qualify as an addiction until the person experiences “chronic, relapsing disorders characterized by compulsive drug seeking, continued use despite negative consequences, and permanent changes to the brain.”

It is important to distinguish between addiction to substances and addiction to non-substances. Addictions that are not related to substances include:

  • Gambling
  • Food
  • Internet
  • Gaming
  • Cell phone
  • Sex

The person who is addicted to a substance or activity will misuse it despite its harmful effects.

What are the types of addiction?

Approximately one in three people worldwide have an addiction of some kind, according to Action on Addiction in the U.K. An addiction can be a physical or psychological condition.

Drug and alcohol addictions are among the most serious. Nearly 1 in 10 Americans are addicted to both substances. Over two-thirds of people with drug addictions also abuse alcohol.

Drugs are most commonly abused for the following reasons:

  • Nicotine, which is found in tobacco
  • THC, which is found in marijuana
  • Opioids or pain relievers
  • Cocaine

Substances or behaviors that can trigger addiction

The top 10 addictions listed in 2014 are as follows: Alcoholism, drug abuse and gambling. Some other commonly abused substances are:

  • Coffee or caffeine
  • Gambling
  • Anger, as a coping strategy
  • Food
  • Technology
  • Sex
  • Work

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize technology, sex, and work addictions as addictions.

Some behaviors or habits closely resemble addiction. When someone is addicted to something, however, they will typically react negatively if they do not receive their reward. For example, a coffee addict might experience severe headaches or irritability upon withdrawal.

Read: Stimulant Use Disorder

What are the signs of addiction?

Addiction is usually characterized by a person’s inability to control their behavior. The following things can occur:

  • Finding situations that promote the use of substances or behaviors
  • Behavioral, such as increased secrecy
  • Health-related, such as sleep disorders or memory issues
  • Personality-related

Even if they recognize the problems their addiction is causing, individuals with addictions will not stop their behavior. Additionally, they may use more than they intended, sometimes exhibiting a lack of control.

Addiction can produce certain behavioral and emotional changes including:

  • A poor or unrealistic view of the pros and cons of substance abuse or addictive behaviors
  • Assuming their problems are the fault of others
  • Depression, anxiety and sadness increase
  • Stress response becomes more severe
  • Difficulty identifying emotions
  • Feelings are different from the physical sensations associated with emotions

Read: Inhalant Use Disorder

What causes addiction?

It’s possible to experience a physical and psychological “high” from substances and behaviors that are addictive. It usually takes you longer to achieve the same high by using more substances or engaging in certain behaviors. Eventually, it is harder to stop an addiction.

The brain

Some people try out a substance or behavior and never return, while others develop an addiction to it. Frontal lobes are partly responsible for this. People can delay the feeling of reward or gratification on account of the frontal lobe. A malfunctioning frontal lobe in addiction leads to immediate satisfaction.

It may also be influenced by other brain areas. It is believed that a person’s anterior cingulate cortex and nucleus accumbens, which are associated with pleasure, are responsible for increasing reaction time when exposed to addictive substances and behaviors.

Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are also possible contributors to addiction. Such disorders can cause coping mechanisms that lead to addiction.

Read: Tobacco Use Disorder

Early exposure

It is widely believed that repeated and early encounters with addictive substances and behaviors have a significant impact. The American Society of Addiction Medicine estimates that genetic factors increase risks by about 50%.

It does not mean that a person will develop an addiction just because it runs in their family.

The environment and culture also play a role in how people respond to substances and behaviors. When a person’s social support system is disrupted, they may become addicted to substances or behaviors. Survivors of trauma can also become addicted to substances or behaviors.

What are the stages?

Addiction often progresses in stages. When you are in the early stages of addiction, your brain and body react differently than when you are in the late stages.

There are four stages of addiction:

  • Experimentation: Use or engage out of curiosity.
  • Social or regular: Often used or engaged in social situations.
  • Problem or risk: Extremely engages or uses in situations without regard to the consequences.
  • Dependency: Consistently engages in a behavior despite possible negative consequences, whether daily or several times per day.

Read: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

What are the complications?

The consequences of untreated can be severe. Examples include:

  • Health problems, such as heart diseases, HIV, and neurological damage.
  • Psychological disorders, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.
  • Social problems, such as jail time and broken relationships.
  • Economic problems, such as bankruptcy anHealth is affected differently by different substances and behaviors.s health. There are serious complications that can result in a person’s death due to health concerns or social situations.

How do you treat addiction?

It is possible to treat all types of addiction. It often affects many areas of life, so comprehensive treatment plans are the most effective. We will help you or the individual you know give up their craving by providing treatment.

Some of the most common treatments are:

  • Medications: Treatment of mental disorders like schizophrenia and depression
  • Psychotherapy: These therapies include behavioral, talk and group therapies
  • Medical services: During detox, medical services can help manage serious withdrawal symptoms
  • Case manager: This person will coordinate and monitor ongoing treatment
  • Inpatient addiction treatment
  • Self-help and support groups

Also, ask your primary care provider about treatment options. Depending on the severity and stage of addiction, the type of treatment a doctor recommends will vary. Medication and therapy may be recommended at the early stages of addiction. An inpatient treatment program may be beneficial at a later stage.

Read: False Memory Disorder

What are the best resources for addiction recovery?

There is no quick fix for addiction recovery. Support is a crucial element of success. The type of addiction determines the type of organization that can provide assistance.

These organizations include:

There are several groups you can find support through these organizations, such as:

  • Local community groups
  • Online forums
  • Addiction information and experts
  • Treatment plans

During recovery, it is essential to have a strong social support system. It can be helpful to tell your closest friends, family members, and colleagues about your treatment plan.

Read: What is Anesthesia


Substance or activity dependence is a serious condition that lasts a lifetime. During each year, the economic damage caused by addiction to the U.S. economy is hundreds of billions of dollars.

When a person is addicted to some substance or behavior, he or she is unable to give it up despite its damaging effects on daily life.

Misuse is not the same thing as addiction. Craving does not always result from substance misuse, while substance abuse includes a pattern of abusing substances and engaging in harmful activities.

Addictions often result in deteriorating physical health, irritation, and fatigue, as well as an inability to stop using substances or engaging in behaviors. These effects may strain relationships and cause limitations in daily activities.

Many people experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior. Without medical supervision, people should not stop using substances or engaging in certain behaviors suddenly.

Recovery is not always easy, but treatment is usually successful. There is no one type of treatment that works for everyone because addiction is individual and varies from person to person. Generally, both medication and counseling are used together.

2 thoughts on “What is Addiction? Definition, Causes, Symptoms & Types

  1. This blog is definitely rather handy since I’m at the moment creating an internet floral website – although I am only starting out therefore it’s really fairly small, nothing like this site. Can link to a few of the posts here as they are quite. Thanks much. Zoey Olsen

  2. I want looking at and I conceive this website got some really useful stuff on it! .

Comments are closed.