What is Addiction?
Addictions are a more extreme version of substance use disorders, which is where someone uses a substance uncontrollably despite its consequences. This is typically done to relieve stress, improve performance, or experience pleasure. Addictions are dangerous and challenging to get rid of due to the downward spiral they can cause. Eventually, people build up a tolerance to whatever substance they are abusing over time. This means that they will require more of that substance to maintain its perceived benefits or achieve a sufficient “high.” However, it should be noted that addictions can also come in the form of behavioral abuse, like gambling.
Cravings for an addictive substance or activity can cause alterations in the ways that people behave and think. This can impact one’s mind, how it makes decisions, retains memories, and more. It also has the ability to affect your body by causing abnormal movements. The most commonly known addictions involve alcohol and various drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, nicotine, and opioids (pain relievers).
What Are The Symptoms of Addiction?
Symptoms of addiction come in two categories; psychological (or social) and physical. You may be experiencing psychological or social symptoms of addiction if you are exhibiting the following signs:
- A lack of interest or motivation to participate in your usual hobbies
- A desire to avoid social interactions to indulge in substances on your own
- You make sacrifices to fulfill your addiction, such as abandoning loved ones to gamble
- Your mind always comes up with an excuse to use the substance or engage in your addictive behavior
- You become obsessed with using your substance of choice and will do whatever it takes to continue your addiction
Physical symptoms of addiction involve the physical changes that occur from using an addictive substance over time and the withdrawals you may experience from trying to stop your addiction. You may be experiencing physical symptoms of addiction if you are exhibiting signs such as:
- Changes in overall appetite
- Withdrawal symptoms:
Physical symptoms of addiction also include the various types of damage done to your body by abusing the substance. This damage can include the development of cancers or high blood pressure from alcohol abuse.
What Causes Addiction?
Addictions are caused by developing a dependency on a specific substance or behavior. When trying to overcome an addiction, you may become triggered by specific stressful events, places, people, or activities that cause you to crave your substance of choice to make yourself feel better. Such triggers can drive addicted individuals to relapse.
How Is Addiction Treated?
While there aren’t any specific medications that can stop all substance and behavioral addictions, you can make use of several programs and services to help you overcome your addiction. For example, you can receive Medicated Assisted Treatment (MAT) from Interpersonal Psychiatry for opioid addiction or visit a psychiatrist who focuses on treating addictions.