Learn About Ailments | Addiction


Addiction is an uncontrollable dependence on a substance, behaviour or activity. Addiction can cause physical, mental and emotional problems and is typically identified by two types: substance addiction (e.g. drugs, alcohol, nicotine) and process addiction (e.g. gambling, sex, shopping, eating). Typical symptoms of addiction include impairment, tolerance, attachment and withdrawal.

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• In the past 50 years, 6 million deaths were caused by tobacco
• Over one million people are addicted to prescribed tranquilisers
• In Britain, 1 in 25 people are dependent on alcohol, twice that of drug dependency
• Between 275,000 and 325,000 people in the UK have a gambling problem
• Over four million British people are addicted to sex

An addiction develops as a result of several factors and can't be attributed to any single reason. Certain substances trigger a chemical change in the brain resulting in feelings that people enjoy and want to repeat. Winning at the tables gives a gambler a similar 'high' and desire for repetition. Once these habits begin to form, they become a regular part of life and an addiction.

Genetic factors such as a family history of substance abuse or a physical sensitivity to certain substances can make people vulnerable to addiction. Peer pressure, influence and advertising are part of social learning factors that heavily contribute to a person developing an addiction. Social problems such as poverty and unemployment can cause addictions, as can stress and pressure to perform. People indulge in certain substances, behaviour or activity as a way to escape their predicament or as a coping mechanism.

Some healthcare professionals believe that certain character traits can trigger addiction. People who are impulsive, self-centred and manipulative are believed to be vulnerable to becoming addicts. However, many doctors believe these traits develop from addiction rather than being the cause of it.

While each addiction has its own set of physical, mental and emotional problems, many addictions have common symptoms. Addiction can lead to a lack of self-control resulting in an addict struggling to manage their behaviour, activity or use of the substance. An addiction also causes impairment and the addict is unable to see any harm in their actions, or if they do, they're unable to stop themselves.

As an addiction develops, a person's tolerance to a substance or behaviour increases leading them to want more of it and their attachment grows stronger meaning the dependency is impossible to break. Finally, when the cause of the addiction is removed, withdrawal symptoms are triggered that manifest in a negative physical or emotional response.

Admitting to an addiction is extremely difficult and many people are unable to do so without help. Family and friends often intervene to help the addict confront their problem by taking them to see a healthcare professional. Many people prefer to attend community projects where they can speak about their problem with other addicts.

Diagnosis of an addiction is based on a number of criteria including loss of willpower, preoccupation, consequences, inability to manage lifestyle, tolerance, escalation of use and withdrawal symptoms when quitting.

  • Alcohol addiction
  • Drug addiction
  • Cigarettes
  • Abuse
  • Illegal
  • Alcoholic
  • Heroin
  • Amphetamines
  • Harm
  • Junkie
  • Retail therapy
  • Compulsive
  • Co-dependence
  • Psychological
  • Relapse
  • Methadone
  • Desensitisation
  • Cold turkey

Therapies to consider
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Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Colour Therapy Counselling
Detoxification EFT EMDR
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Life Coaching NLP Nutrition
Psychotherapy Reflexology Thought Field Therapy


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