With the term ‘addiction’, we often assume the dependence on drugs, but the spectrum is far wider than that and involves things and activities no one even considers to be an addiction.
In a simple definition, Addiction refers to the inability to stop using a substance or doing any activity that results in physical or psychological harm.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with Addiction use substances or engage in behaviours that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences.”
From taking medications to the inability to partake in daily activities like eating and working out, Addiction can have many forms.
Addicts often voluntarily engage in the activity, and then Addiction takes over, and they lose their self-control.
Addiction can be broadly classified into Substance and Non-Substance Addiction. Substance addiction or drug addiction refers to a neuropsychiatric disorder in which, in spite of the harmful consequences, there is a recurring desire to continue taking a drug.
Non-substance Addiction or behavioural Addiction refers to an array of activities, including pathological gambling, food addiction, internet addiction, and mobile phone addiction. Both Substance and Non-substance addiction are alike in their definition, but their domains are vastly different from each other.
People tend to confuse substance misuse with Addiction and vice-versa, but they are different. Misuse of a substance refers to taking high doses of the substance or in inappropriate situations that lead to health or social issues. But, not everyone who misuses a substance has an addiction to the same.
Let’s take an example of a person who drinks heavily at a company party and might experience harmful effects of the substance on their health and socially. However, until they experience a compulsive need to consume alcohol continuously despite its harmful effects, it does not qualify as an addiction.
Someone with an addiction will continue to misuse a substance or continue doing an activity despite its harmful effects.
It is very difficult to identify addictions unless it is substance addiction. However, there are a few symptoms that are the primary indicators of Addiction:
Declining performance at work
Poor performance or declining grades at school
Difficulties in relationships which involves getting agitated
Lack of energy in performing day-to-day activities
Change in appearance, including a lack of hygiene
Inability to stop using a substance even with its negative impacts on health or personal life
Defensive stance when asked about the substance use
In case of an addiction, it is always a good idea to seek medical help at the earliest, or the situation may get worse or even fatal. However, it is unlikely that the person with an addiction will seek medical help willingly, and the people around them have to interfere with getting the required help.
Addiction is a chronic condition, but with progress and advancement in medicine, there are several treatment options available for treating some dealing with an addiction, including,
Counselling and Behavioral Therapy
Medical devices helping with withdrawal symptoms
The treatment also includes treating other psychological factors like depression. A person undergoing treatment for Addiction is at a high risk of relapse, so the treatment plan also includes a care plan to reduce the risk.
A treatment plan for Addiction is personalized depending upon the severity of the Addiction and the person. It is important that if a person with an addiction is willing to get rid of it, they do so with the help of a medical professional and not on their own. When a person with an addiction stops partaking in the behaviour or stops consuming the substance, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are unpleasant and a health risk that can be fatal.
The treatment for addiction is not an easy process for the person with addiction and the people around them, but it is the only effective way to get rid of the illness. The treatment plan depends on a lot of factors but is generally a combination of counselling, medication and support from the community.