What is Addiction?

"Nuggets" : His journey tells the story.


Addiction is a dependence problem. A condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine, other pharmaceuticals) or engages in an activity (gambling, shopping, eating, sex) that can be pleasurable but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work or relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behaviour is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others. To be 'addicted' means that regardless of somewhat catastrophric consequences, an individual cannot stop their using. 

The word addiction is used in several different ways. Dependence is now more commonly known. One definition describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect; this is known as tolerance. Because of tolerance, there is a biological reaction when the drug is withdrawn. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). The biological adaptations in the brain result in changes in behaviour. An alcoholic walking into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.

People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed. It becomes a way of coping for the individual hence, why it is possible for people to frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behaviour.  The focus of the addiction isn't what matters; it's the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.

When referring to any kind of dependence, it is important to recognise that its cause is not simply a search for pleasure and that addiction has nothing to do with one's morality or strength of character. Experts debate whether addiction is a "disease" or a true mental illness, whether drug dependence and addiction mean the same thing, and many other aspects of addiction. Such debates are not likely to be resolved soon. But the lack of resolution does not preclude effective treatment.

Treatment Options (Point 3 - An area of expertise from Being You as well as Assessments)

Could be any or ALL of the following depending on the stage of Substance abuse/dependance.

  1. Hospital in-patient Detoxification known as a "Detox" working towards abstinence
  2. Residential or Long term Rehabilitation as an in-patient working towards abstinence
  3. Individual Therapy with Psychotherapist, Counsellor or Psychologist with focus on Recovery, Relapse Prevention, Education, Relationships
  4. Pharmacological Treatments
  5. Group Therapy as part of an out-patient program.
  6. Twelve Step Program - (Abstinence) (AA,NA,OEA,SLA)
  7. Harm Minimisation ( Controlled drinking)

N.B.It is important to understand that Substance Abuse / Substance Dependence develops over time and a thorough assessment is necessary in order to tailor an appropriate treatment model. This should be done by a qualified practitioner with an Addiction Specialty ( Eg. Psychotherapist or Psychiatrist)