Addiction is a complicated, chronic brain illness that is impacted by both genes and the environment. It is defined by drug use or obsessive behaviours that persist despite the presence of detrimental effects. Addiction may be traced back to both genetic and environmental factors.
For a very long time, the definition of addiction referred to a compulsive and uncontrolled need to use alcohol or other narcotics. In more recent times, the idea of addiction has grown to include not just narcotics but also activities that are considered routine and important, such as working out and eating. Other behaviours, like gambling, are also included in this expansion. Addictions and mental health network serves affected people to cope with the effects of such dependencies.
Types of Addictions
Despite the fact that chemical dependence sometimes looks like a black-and-white issue, there is considerable debate over whether substances really possess addictive properties. The current criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the diagnostic tool used to identify many forms of mental health issues, state that the potential for addiction exists with the majority of psychoactive drugs, including pharmaceuticals.
Difference Between Addictions and Other Substance Use Disorders
It is crucial to note that addiction is not regarded an official diagnosis in the DSM-5.2, despite the fact that the word “addiction” is often used to characterize obsessive drug-seeking behaviors that persist despite the occurrence of negative results.
The DSM-5 does not utilize the word “addiction,” but rather identifies many types of drug use disorders. Although the diagnostic criteria for each category are different from one another, according to the DSM-5, these disorders are characterized by problematic patterns of use of intoxicating drugs that result in severe impairment and suffering. These symptoms may lead to reduced control, social impairment, dangerous use, tolerance, and withdrawal, among other negative outcomes.
In spite of the fact that these conditions are sometimes referred to informally as addictions, you will most likely be diagnosed by your doctor with either a form of substance use disorder or one of the two behavioral addiction disorders that are officially recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Both of these disorders are considered to be addictions (APA).
Substance Use Disorders
The DSM-5:3 includes a variety of disorders related to drug abuse and dependence:
- problems stemming from alcohol use
- diseases associated with caffeine consumption
- diseases associated with cannabis use
- hallucinogen-related diseases
- opioid-related psychiatric conditions
- disorders associated with sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiety medications
- disorders associated with stimulants
- disorders brought on by tobacco use
Addictions to Behavioural Patterns
In addition, the DSM-5 distinguishes between two distinct forms of behavioral addiction:
- addiction caused by gambling
- internet gaming disorder
There is still a lot of controversy about the classification of many different types of behavioral addictions as “real” addictions. To have a better understanding of this topic, further study is required. The DSM-5 does not formally identify shopping addiction, sex addiction, or exercise addiction as separate diseases, despite the fact that they tend to be discussed as examples of behavioral addictions.
The signs and symptoms might differ from one form of addiction to another; however, the following are some of the more frequent indicators of addiction:
- an incapacity to come to a halt
- alterations in one’s disposition, eating, and sleeping habits
- continuing despite negative repercussions
- engaging in dangerous behaviors
- experiencing feelings of preoccupation with the drug or activity in question
- legal and financial difficulties
- losing interest in other activities that you used to take pleasure in
- putting the activity or the drug in question ahead of other aspects of one’s life, such as one’s family, one’s job, or other duties
- increasing the quantity of a chemical that one consumes over time
- ingesting a greater quantity of the chemical than was originally planned
- withdrawal symptoms
Characteristics That Make Up an Addiction
There are two characteristics that are shared by all forms of addiction:
The addicted habit is not healthy for the individual. The person or people around them may have difficulties as a result of the conduct. Therefore, rather than assisting the individual in coping with circumstances or overcoming challenges, it tends to diminish these skills in them.
This behavior does not seem to change. When someone is addicted to a substance or habit, they will continue to participate in the addictive behavior despite the difficulties that it generates for them. Therefore, indulging one’s appetites for pleasure on a weekend here and there does not constitute an addiction, despite the fact that it may lead to a variety of difficulties. Participation in the addictive activity on a regular basis is a key indicator of addiction.
A Substance Abuse Problem
It is usual, if not normal, to go through a period in which you engage in drug use or a behavior that is addictive without realizing you are hooked on it. This stage may last anywhere from a few weeks to many years.
If you are beginning to wonder whether or not you have a dependency on a substance, you have most likely entered the contemplation stage of the recovery process. This is an excellent opportunity for you to educate yourself about the activity or drug that you have been partaking in and to conduct an honest evaluation of yourself to determine whether or not you are exhibiting any signs or symptoms of addiction.
After that, a lot of individuals make the decision to alter their behavior. This may come easily and be easily managed for some people. For many other people, quitting may lead to painful withdrawal symptoms, even with actions, and can stir up unwanted sensations that were being soothed or repressed by the addictive habit. Even with activities, quitting can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.
In the event that this takes place, as well as in the event that you have been drinking or taking drugs, such as opioids (whether illegal or prescribed), other prescription medicines, stimulants, cocaine, or meth, you should get medical assistance as soon as possible.
Stopping certain medicines and then starting back up again might increase your chance of overdose, issues with mental health, or other life-threatening medical consequences; thus, you should only do this under the guidance of a physician or professional from the addictions and mental health network.
A mental and physical high may be produced by both the use of substances and engaging in certain actions. People tend to build up a tolerance over time, which means that they need more of something in order to experience the same effects that they did initially. The following are some examples of potential contributors to the development of an addiction:
- The alterations that occur in the brain’s reward pathways as a result of addiction take place throughout the course of the disease.
- Your family history may have a role in your likelihood of developing an addiction, particularly if other members of your family have already struggled with addiction.
- Research indicates that there is a correlation between one’s genetic make-up and the chance of acquiring an addiction.
- The environment may play a role in the development of addictions in a number of different ways. These include exposure to drugs that are themselves addictive, as well as social pressure, a lack of social support, and inadequate coping abilities.
- Both the frequency and length of a person’s usage are important factors in determining whether or not they may develop an addiction to a drug.
It takes time for an addiction to form. After just one use of a drug, it is very uncommon that a person would acquire an addiction to that substance. However, it is conceivable for certain substances to cause a person to develop a mental health condition, die from an overdose, or die from another consequence after only one use.
The disease of addiction may be treated, but not all roads to recovery are equal. Because relapses are rather prevalent, the trip may be lengthy. The following are examples of popular ways to therapy:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes known as CBT, is a kind of psychotherapy that may be used to address cognitive and behavior patterns that lead to addiction. Other forms of treatment are family therapy, group therapy, and crisis management.
- Medication: This may include pharmaceuticals that help manage withdrawal symptoms and cravings, in addition to other treatments that address underlying mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. Methadone, buprenorphine, nicotine replacement therapy, and naltrexone are some examples of the medications that a doctor could give.
- Hospitalization: Some persons who are detoxing from substances may need hospitalization in order to get treatment for potentially life-threatening issues that may arise throughout the process.
- Self-help and support groups are also available. People who are recovering from an addiction may benefit greatly from receiving knowledge as well as social support from support groups, whether such groups meet in-person or online.
Many individuals are able to learn to regulate addictive activities including drinking, eating, shopping, and sex. Although there are certain schools of thought that emphasize the requirement for full abstinence, many people are able to learn to control these behaviors. The strategy that will work best for you relies on a variety of circumstances, and selecting it is something that is best done in conjunction with your primary care physician, therapist, or an addictions and mental health network professional.
Addictions and Mental Health Network
Addictions and Mental Health Network (AMHN) represents providers from across the statutory, independent and third sectors. It engages with government, regulators, opinion formers, and media to promote excellence in mental health services and the value of good mental health.
The AMHN helps develop national policy and legislation impacting the affected people. It makes sense of the larger political and policy climate, and give members with up-to-date news and analysis on addictions. It also aims to uncover and share excellent practice and innovation in the mental health industry.
How to Deal With Addictions
In addition to receiving the necessary therapy, there are other things that you can do that will make it easier for you to deal with the situation and will assist in your recovery.
- Learn to recognize the indicators. Many times, an individual’s addiction becomes so engrained in their way of life that they no longer or seldom experience the withdrawal symptoms associated with it. Or individuals may not identify their withdrawal symptoms for what they are, attributing them instead to natural aging, an excessively demanding workload, or a simple aversion to getting up early. People may be reliant on their addiction for years before they become aware of the extent of that dependence.
- Acquire knowledge on addiction. Always keep in mind that assistance is accessible. Getting an education is a fantastic place to start. You can significantly lessen the amount of damage done to both yourself and the people in your immediate environment, and who knows? Maybe one day you’ll even be ready to alter your ways permanently.
- Acquire the abilities necessary to cope. When a person’s addiction is their primary method of dealing with other issues in their life, it may be very challenging to acknowledge the damage that addiction causes. Sometimes other difficulties are directly tied to the addiction, like health problems, and sometimes they are indirectly related to the addiction, like relationship problems. Obtaining new coping skills may assist you in managing the challenges of everyday life without requiring you to depend on drugs or behaviors.
- Get assistance. It is essential to have the emotional support of family and friends. Participating in a support group may be an excellent approach to make connections with those who have had similar life situations.