A Look at Addiction and its Many Forms

Addiction manifests itself in a wide variety of forms, although some are considerably more common and noticeable than others.

Addictions may be physical, psychological, or a little of both. Many addictions are actually misdiagnosed and should instead be labeled as problematic, risky, compulsive, or obsessive behaviors making an accurate diagnosis crucial for finding the right type of treatment plan.

Alcohol and narcotics are among the first few to come to mind when thinking of addictions but there are several other types people struggle with on a regular basis such as shopping, Internet, and video game addictions.

Alcohol

Those who are addicted to alcohol feel compelled to drink and are unable to last long without doing so. Unpleasant withdrawal symptoms will most likely be the result if the alcoholic doesn’t satisfy their cravings. A variety of approaches may be used to curb alcohol addiction including counseling, therapy, and having a strong support system.

Drugs

Drug addictions can include prescription medication dependencies or addictions to illegal street drugs as well as nicotine. An addiction to nicotine is one that plagues many smokers who battle numerous obstacles when trying to quit including everything from strong cravings to irritability to the inability to focus clearly.

Food

Food addictions, also harmful to one’s health, may cause withdrawal like symptoms when trying to “break the habit” of overeating. Studies show that brain chemistry changes when the food addict indulges giving a temporary feeling of great contentment. Binge eaters are also considered to be food addicts.

Other Addictions

Shopping addictions may too have dire consequences wreaking havoc on credit ratings and finances with some instances leading to additional problems such as hoarding.

Thanks to the proliferation of the Internet, more and more people are now finding themselves addicted to a variety of online pursuits including chatting, web surfing, and video gaming.

Some other behaviors or activities that people may become addicted to include gambling, under-eating, excessive exercising, and working.

In essence, basically anything could potentially evolve into an addiction but regardless of the type, all feature the same two basic elements; the behavior in question is maladaptive and the addicted person has a compulsion to continue that behavior despite knowing the consequences.

Addiction and its many changing faces require an intense understanding of the root of the problem and why it is used as a coping mechanism.

Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism is one of the most prevalent forms of substance abuse in the United States today. There are two different types of addiction to alcohol:

• Alcoholism: You have both a mental and physical dependence on alcohol. Regardless of the side effects the addict may be experiencing, he or she will continue to drink alcohol as the body has become dependent on the substance.
• Alcohol abuse: The use of alcohol has consequences; however there is no evidence of physical addiction present. In many cases, continued alcohol abuse will lead to alcoholism.

At this time, there has been no scientific evidence to support a cause for alcoholism or alcohol abuse. However, several studies that have been conducted point to a potential genetic trigger, though no specific genes or abnormalities have been pinpointed as the cause. Studies have indentified that specific behaviors generally lead to alcoholism. These include:

• Men who consume more than 15 alcoholic beverages per week; women who consume more than 12 alcoholic beverages per week. or
• Either gender who consumes more than 5 alcoholic beverages in one sitting at least once per week.
Of course, other behaviors and characteristic traits can also be used as a predictor of future alcoholism. These include:
• Teens and adolescents experiencing peer pressure
• Mental disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia
• Easy access to alcohol
• Low self esteem or stressful lifestyle

If you suspect that you or someone you love may have a problem with alcohol, ask yourself or your loved one to answer these questions:

1. Have you ever driven while under the influence of alcohol?
2. Do you find that you have to consume more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effects?
3. Have you ever been concerned about the amount of alcohol you consume?
4. Have you ever had memory lapses after consuming alcohol?
5. Has drinking ever caused you to miss work or family function?
6. Is someone else worried about the amount of alcohol you consume?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may have a problem with alcohol and should see someone in order to get your addiction under control.

Understanding Gambling Addictions

When most people think about addiction, they think about things like drugs or alcohol. While both of these things can produce strong addictions, people can also be addicted to certain activities and one of the most common addictions is to gambling. A gambling addiction may be dependent on a wide range of activities, from bingo to slots to poker, and learning more about this harmful condition can help you deal with it in the future.

A gambling addiction might also be called compulsive gambling, and one way that it starts is through the use of gambling to deal with problems. For example, negative feelings like depression, fear and anxiety can all trigger an episode of gambling compulsively. A person who has problems like this may think that they are due for some good luck, or that a single lucky streak can change things around for them. The chance of success lets them get away from their own problems for a while, and they do not think that there are other, healthier ways for them to solve their problems.

If you suspect that you or that someone you know has a gambling addiction, there are some signs to watch out for. First, a gambling addict tends to be secretive about their gambling. They may choose to gamble away from their friends or family, thinking that they won’t understand. They may have problems limiting how much money they spend or how long they do it. Some gambling addicts will gamble even when they no longer have any money to gamble with.

If you are concerned that you have gambling problem, take the time to listen to what your friends and family say. In many cases, even if the gambling addict has taken the time and effort to hide their activities, their friends and their families still know. Consult with them and be honest about how much gambling you have been doing.

Similarly, keep track of your own impulses. Can you walk away from the table when you say you will? If you are constantly pushing the time when you have to leave back and back, this indicates that you have an issue with control.

When you think that you or someone in your life has an addiction problem, remember that there is help out there. There are programs that are geared towards helping people recover from this issue, and you’ll soon find that there are plenty of avenues to try.

Looking at Prescription Painkiller Addiction

When people think of addictions, illegal drugs and alcohol immediately come to mind, but people can also be heavily and dangerously addicted to something as innocent as prescription painkillers. Prescription painkillers are given to people who have to deal with pain, whether the pain is chronic or acute, and it can take a surprisingly short time to become addicted to the feeling of release and freedom that the prescription painkillers provide. If you are worried that you or someone you know is addicted to prescription painkillers, there are a few things to watch out for.

One of the signs of a prescription painkiller addiction is an increased tolerance to the drug in question. If you find that you need to take more of the drug to get a similar effect, it is important to question what your relationship with that drug is. Over time, someone struggling with a prescription painkiller addiction may notice a change in their personality, especially one where they withdraw from society. They are inclined to keep using the drug, even if they no longer strictly need it, and they may lie to their doctors in order to get more.

The problem with prescription painkiller addiction is that there is often no way to monitor it or to judge one person to be an addict. A person who has this problem may drive long distances to different doctors in order to get the prescription that they need, and they can become very adept at bending the situation to their favor. The people around the person with the addiction may never notice because the drugs are legal and prescribed by a doctor.

If you are afraid that you or someone you know has an addiction to prescription painkillers, it is important to speak with a medical official as soon as possible. Depending on the prescription painkiller, there may be a weaning process that is necessary before the drugs can be halted entirely. Afterward, there is the behavioral changes that must be made, and these adjustments may need to be made through therapy or through joining a support group.

Learning more about prescription painkiller addiction is something that benefit anyone who may suspect that they are dealing with this issue in their life. This issue is a sensitive one that needs to be dealt with in a straightforward and reasonable manner, but it is also serious enough to warrant immediate and direct attention.

The Rainbow of Addiction

The term “addict” does not strictly define a person addicted to drugs or alcohol. Many varieties of addiction exist. In fact, a person can develop multiple addictions that simultaneously occur. This overview identifies the many facets of addiction.

Alcohol addiction occurs when drinking takes control of the person. They have difficulty in quitting, as withdrawal symptoms develop without alcohol. Since drinking alcohol is legal, the line blurs between a heavy partier and an alcoholic.

Alcohol addiction falls into the category of drug addiction. There are hundreds of substances a person develops a dependency and/or abuses. Cigarette smoking demonstrates a strong drug addiction, as the smoker craves the nicotine. Drug addictions are sometimes mild (caffeine dependency from coffee). Other times, drug addictions are life-threatening (heroin addicts face possible death when quitting cold turkey).

Other abused substances include methamphetamine, methadone, opiates, and marijuana. Athletes injecting steroids show a form of drug addiction. They quickly develop a dependency and suffer withdrawal symptoms when their bodies are not getting the steroid.

Prescription drug addiction is growing rapidly in the United States. A prescription drug addict probably started with an injury, accident, or surgery. Once the drug has gained control, an addict will easily justify the drug use. Their own doctor legitimately prescribed that drug to them for the level of pain. Alcoholics similarly justify their abuse because it is legal to drink.

Behavioral addictions cause the same amount of devastation in the life of an addict. These types of addictions occur when a person cannot control and/or stop an activity, though the realization of dire consequences exists. Sometimes behavioral addictions cause substantially more damage compared to a drug addiction. A drug addiction has a scientific explanation with regards to the physical dependency. Although brain chemicals react in a behavioral addiction, it wreaks havoc on the addict’s family and friends.

Behavioral addiction occurs when the addict develops an unnatural obsession for gambling, eating, sex, love, work, pornography, video games, or shopping. The addict knows it is upsetting to their family and/or finances, but the obsession grows and the addict cannot stop the behavior or activity without professional help.

Addiction is a disease of the mind, body, and soul. It has the power to take away lives. Recovery is not possible unless the addict wishes to change. That truth remains constant with every single addiction.

Heroin Use and Addiction

Heroin is an opiate pain reliever that is in the same class as morphine. As a matter of fact, heroin is a derivative of morphine. Historically, heroin has been used to treat severe pain however all forms of heroin have been banned in the United States due to its highly addictive properties.

The main draw of heroin is its ability to produce intense relaxation and euphoria. These properties are what have earned heroin its nickname as the “perfect whatever drug”. Tolerance to heroin develops quickly, requiring addicts to use more and more in order to achieve the same feelings. Most addicts begin as recreational users, though it doesn’t take long for physical dependency to develop, thus requiring the addict to continue to use the drug to prevent extremely unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use, approximately 3.7 million Americans have tried heroin at some point in their lives with another 150,000 people trying heroin for the first time each year. Many of these people become addicts within a few months. While heroin can be snorted, smoked or injected, most addicts end up injecting the drug in order to enhance its effects and intensify the rush as well as decrease the time it takes to experience the effects.

Long term effects of heroin use include:
• Risk of contracting an infectious disease including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis b and c.
• Collapsed veins
• Bacterial infections
• Abscesses
• Endocarditis
• Arthritis
• Death

This list doesn’t include the addiction itself. Scientists have discovered that long term use of heroin produces chemical changes in the brain that create a physical dependence on the drug itself. Stopping heroin use after these changes have occurred results in extremely painful withdrawal symptoms as soon as a few hours after the last use. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

• Bone pain
• Restlessness
• Insomnia
• Vomiting
• Diarrhea
• Cold flashes
• Involuntary leg movements

Heroin addiction is a treatable condition whereby the addict can recover from the disease. There are many effective treatment methods that can be used to combat heroin addiction, however these are most effective when implemented early in the disease process. Both methadone and suboxone have been used to treat heroin addiction successfully and reduce the effects of withdrawal symptoms while detoxing. These medications, when combined with behavioral modification therapies, can increase the chances of recovery.

Different Types of Addiction

Addiction is a term that is used to describe any strong habit. There are a number of addictions and some are more serious than others. However, it is important to note that any addiction can become harmful over time if
the person does not get help. Below are some of the most common addictions today:

Food Addiction

The obesity rate has skyrocketed over the past couple of decades. Researchers have found that food addiction is one of the culprits behind the obesity epidemic. People who have a food addiction not only have trouble controlling their eating habits, but they also make unhealthy food choices. As a result, they begin to gain weight.

Drug addiction

Drug addiction is one of the most common addictions. It is important to note that drug addiction is not limited to illicit drugs. There are a growing number of people who are abusing prescription drugs. Both illicit and prescription drug addictions can be damaging to a person’s mental and physical health if they are left untreated.
Sexual addiction

Sexual addiction is a term that is used to describe a person who is addicted to sex and sexual activities. People who have a sexual addiction feel as though they can never get enough of sex. They may also sleep with multiple partners at one time to satisfy that overwhelming urge that they feel. Sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies are common among people who have a sexual addiction. Psychologists have stated that people who have a sexual addiction are not only addicted to sex, but they are also addicted to the power that sex brings.

Gambling addiction

Gambling is a hobby that many people enjoy. It is harmless when it is done in moderation. However, there are millions of people who feel the need to gamble every single day. Lost money is just one of the many negative outcomes of a gambling addiction.

The good news is that all addictions can be broken. The first step in breaking the addiction is for the person to admit that he has a problem. Once a person admits that he has a problem, he will be able to get the treatment and counseling that he needs.

Addiction to Internet Porn

An addict is usually pictured as someone who has hit “rock-bottom”, who suffers from terrible bruises and physical scarring, and whose life has been directly and terribly ruined by an inability to stop using some kind of drug. People usually imagine that the addiction to a drug is something so physically absolute that it really isn’t anything to do with personal choice or psychology. If someone is addicted to a substance like that, it’s one thing. But being addicted to – the internet? How can it even be related?

Well, the truth is that the line between psychology and physiology is never that clear. Very commonly substance abusers can get past the physical need for the thing they crave. It’s the mental need that really makes things hard. Stopping the use of alcohol, cigarettes or any illegal substance can be painful, but never doing it again is even worse.

We are made of habits, and as has long been said “old habits die hard.” The more used to something we are, the harder it is to alter our action regarding it. So many activities that do not directly involve the ingestion of a physical substance really can be addicting. The use of the internet, especially for viewing pornography but not necessarily so, can cause habits and actions that are essentially the same as a person who is suffering from physical addiction.

It should be noted that sex addiction is commonly associated with porn addiction since the person is always trying to satisfy sexual urges even if they are not with someone. There are sites and therapists that specialize in offering sex addiction help online.

An addiction can be thought of as the development of certain habits which then take over and dominate one’s life. If habits are healthy, they can be developed and then maintained, or altered as a person sees fit, all the while becoming integrated with their personality. But an addiction does not become part of their personality so much as a need or desire that they are prostrate to.

This distinction can be fought over, as people do when discussing whether they are alcoholics or just people who like to have a drink, but in bad cases it is pretty clear. Being addicted to internet sex means being so enmeshed in the use of web porn that the possibility of real life sexual encounters is no longer of much interest. An addict can’t just forget about it for a few days or a week, and the issue gets in the way of a healthy life.