What is Addiction?
Addiction occurs when a person becomes psychologically and physically dependent on a substance or behavior. If a person continues to involve themselves with the substance or behavior despite experiencing negative consequences because of it, this is an indication they have an addiction problem. Recently, the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) changed their official definition of addiction, after finally accepting that addiction is not limited to substances but can also include behaviors. The ASAM now defines addiction as a chronic brain disorder, based on motivation, reward, and memory.
What are the Most Common Addictions?
When people think of addiction, they nearly always associate the word with drugs. However, addiction can apply to anything a person does so obsessively that it begins to have a negative impact on their social, mental, and financial health. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the most common addictions reported include drugs, sex, alcohol, eating, and gambling. While the specifics of the addictive stimulus may vary, the process of addiction is virtually the same. All addictions involve obsessive behavior, with the individual putting the substance or behavior before other more important things in his or her life. Addicts are usually secretive about their behavior and may appear agitated or aggressive when confronted about it.
Signs and Symptoms of Withdrawal
When an individual suddenly stops the behavior or substance that they are addicted to, it is common for them to experience withdrawal symptoms. Signs and symptoms of withdrawal will vary according to each individual addiction, but usually include irritability, agitation, obsession with the substance or behavior, and depression. It is also possible for people to experience physical symptoms such as nausea, tremors, and stomach cramps. More severe cases of addiction, especially those involving substances, can cause withdrawal symptoms such as black outs and even short-term memory loss. Whether an individual is addicted to a substance or a behavior, it is often difficult for that person to accept he or she can function normally without it. Whatever the addiction, withdrawal symptoms can be uncomfortable and it is for this reason that so many people find it difficult to overcome addictions without professional and medical supervision. If you believe you, or someone close to you, may be suffering from an addiction, please feel free to call our confidential helpline on 1-888-439-3435
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The first step towards addiction treatment is for the addicted individual to admit he or she needs help. This is often the hardest part, especially as many addictions are isolating. There is also the stigma attached to rehabilitation. Individuals may worry what the people closest to them will think. However, the ASAM are quick to reassure individuals, insisting that a person will stand a better chance of beating their addiction with the help and support of professionals. The initial part of treatment will concentrate on making the individual comfortable. In the case of some substance abuse, this may mean taking a safe substitute drug to help one cope with the signs and symptoms of withdrawal. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed to help people deal with the withdrawals associated with other addictions.
Cognitive and behavioral therapies are an essential part of any addiction treatment program. In working to help individuals with psychological dependency, therapists encourage individuals to be honest about their addiction triggers. These high-risk situations are most likely to make the person turn to the substance or behavior. The therapist can then teach the individual how to avoid these triggers, therefore reducing the chances of a relapse. Learning problem solving skills and coping strategies are also an important part of addiction treatment. Stress is seen as a common reason why people return to substance abuse or certain behaviors. Therefore, teaching an individual how to cope under pressure will reduce the chance of returning to the addiction in the future.