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

Addiction to prescription drugs

Many people associate drug abuse with illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin. But addiction is far more common with prescription medications such as sleeping pills and tranquilizers. Drug dependence, which can be psychological or physical, is an uncontrollable desire to experience the pleasurable effects of a drug or to prevent the unpleasant effects of withdrawal. Your body can build up a tolerance to a drug so that the dose must be increased to achieve the same results. This effect is called drug tolerance. It is characteristic of most commonly abused drugs, including alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Commonly abused prescription and over-the-counter medicines include opioids such as hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet), sleep medicines such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta), and stimulants such as methylphenidate (Concerta, Ritalin). When a person becomes physically dependent on a prescription medicine, the body has adapted to the drug's effects so much that stopping it causes withdrawal symptoms. The only way to get free of it is to slowly use less and less, under a doctor's supervision, to prevent severe symptoms of withdrawal. More »

Caution: These are the most addictive pain meds

Most users of opioids for pain don't have a problem with them. However, using opioids longer than 30 days brings the risk of dependence. People at risk of becoming addicted to opioids are those who are likely to become addicted to another substance. More »

Fool your brain, reduce your pain

You can help relieve chronic pain by distracting your brain. If you have a demanding enough task, you’ll have less attention to give to your pain. Distractions may release natural painkillers that block incoming pain signals as they enter the spinal cord. Distractions can include memory games or any activity so pleasurable or meaningful that it distracts you from your pain. And you don’t have to choose just one activity. Using your brain to do more things that are rewarding tips the balance away from pain. (Locked) More »

Alcohol abstinence vs. moderation

People who seek treatment for alcohol dependence sometimes attempt to drink in moderation rather than abstain altogether. The success of this approach largely depends on whether the patient has already established a high degree of dependence. More »