Addiction

People sometimes jokingly use the term "addiction" in everyday conversation, referring to themselves as "chocolate addicts" or "workaholics." But addiction isn't something to be taken lightly. Addiction to alcohol, marijuana, prescription medications, gambling, and other substances or activities can cause serious health issues and problems with family members, friends, coworkers, work, money, and the law. Yet, despite these problems, a person continues to use the substance or engage in the activity.

People with an addiction tend to show the three Cs:

  • craving for the object of the addiction, which can be mild to intense
  • loss of control over use of the object of the addiction
  • continued engagement with the object of the addiction in spite of harmful consequences.

In its most basic definition, addiction is a physical dependence on a substance or activity. The dependence leads to unpleasant symptoms, called withdrawal symptoms, that appear when a person stops using the substance or doing the activity.

Nobody starts out wanting to develop an addiction. But some people do get attracted to certain substances or behaviors for specific reasons. Most of these objects of addiction offer people some psychological, social, or physical rewards. Those rewards are often compelling, so the substance or behavior remains appealing even if it also comes at a cost.

One key element in overcoming addiction involves recognizing the value it holds. Once you understand the value you derive from your addiction, you can seek alternate  and less destructive  methods for filling that need.

Addiction Articles

Is my painkiller an opioid?

Oxycodone is an opioid. A combination of oxycodone and acetaminophen should be used with caution and for the shortest duration possible. Talk to your doctor about tapering off the oxycodone or other opioid if possible. (Locked) More »

The downside of taking pills to treat chronic pain

Not understanding the risks of using painkillers can be dangerous. Large doses of acetaminophen can damage the liver. Regular use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) has been linked to ulcers, stomach bleeding, kidney problems, high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Long-term use of prescription painkillers called opioids comes with the risk of dependence, addiction, overdose, death, constipation, falls, slowed reaction time, and slowed breathing. It’s important to weigh the risks and benefits of long-term use of painkillers by talking with a doctor. (Locked) More »

Keep tabs on your drinking

Over time, a single drink per day may slightly increase the risk of atrial fibrillation (afib). This risk may be related to an enlargement of the heart’s upper left chamber (atrium). And binge drinking—defined as consuming about four to five drinks over a two-hour period—can also trigger afib.  (Locked) More »

At what age is alcohol use unsafe?

When older adults drink alcohol, they may be increasing their risk of falls. Otherwise, drinking alcohol in the older years poses the same risks as it does in the younger years. (Locked) More »

Treatments for opioid medication addictions

Dr. Wynne Armand talks with Dr. Terry Schraeder about the increase in opiod addictions and shares prevention and treatment methods for those experiencing an addiction to prescription opioid medication. More »

Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce diabetes risk

The American Diabetes Association counsels women with diabetes to follow the recommendations for alcohol consumption that apply to most adult women: a drink a day is fine, especially because it may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease.  More »

Prescription pain pills: Worth the risks?

Opioids are powerful painkillers that block messages of pain to the brain and decrease the body's perception of discomfort. But taking opioids for four weeks or longer puts a person at risk for dependence and sometimes for addiction. (Locked) More »