Addiction is a pattern of behaviour that causes significant disruption and difficulty in your life, defined by physical and/or psychological dependence on something.
Addiction is most often associated with the use of psychoactive drugs, which alter your mood and your thinking, such as alcohol, narcotics, stimulants, and sedatives. However, it is common to extend the meaning of addiction to include compulsive behaviour, problems associated with food and eating, as well as obsessive problems with gambling, sex and other activities that produce feelings of pleasure.
Addiction has affected countless people throughout history, and has never respected race, religion nor social backgrounds.
Am I an Addict?
An alcoholic or a drug addict is a person whose life is controlled by the need to get hold of, and use, alcohol or drugs. It is wrong to suppose that an addict must be a tramp sleeping rough or a ‘junkie’ injecting a dirty needle. This negative stereotype keeps many addicts from getting the help they need.
Addicts come from every walk of life and every profession. Many are successful, intelligent people, and few intend to become addicts. A habit may start innocently with prescription drugs prescribed by the family doctor, or from drinking with friends in the pub.
Whether the addiction results from drinking alcohol, taking legal medications or using illegal substances, the consequences can be just as devastating and just as deadly.
Any activity that results in you taking risks to fulfil a craving, or any activity that dominates your thoughts in every waking moment, may be a sign of addiction. If you feel you have to do something that make you feel uneasy, uncomfortable or irritable, you may be an addict. If there’s something you want to stop doing but cannot, you may be an addict.
If you are addicted, there may be other tell-tale addiction signs. For instance, you may sleep more or less than usual, lose your appetite, or develop cravings for sweets or other foods. Personality changes, such as becoming withdrawn or irritable, may indicate addiction as well.
Recognizing that there is a problem is the first step towards recovery.
An alcoholic is compelled to drink, often against their own wishes. Unlike a person who only consumes alcohol in social situations, an alcoholic is unable to go without a drink for long.
Over time the body develops a tolerance for alcohol, so that an alcoholic needs more frequent and stronger drinks to feel any effect. Eventually an alcoholic may need a drink just to feel ‘normal’.
If an alcoholic stops drinking, they will probably endure withdrawal symptoms because their brain chemistry has been affected by the presence of alcohol.
The only available relief from these symptoms may be another drink, and without it life may seem unbearable.