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What is addiction?

Addiction is a chronic dependence on a substance or activity. Medically, it is one of the most severe forms of a full-spectrum substance abuse disorder, a mental illness caused by repeated misuse of a substance or substances. There are two types of addictions.

  • Chemical addiction involves the use of substances such as drugs, alcohol.
  • Behavioral addiction involves compulsive behaviors. These are persistent, repeated behaviors that you carry out even if they don’t offer any real benefit, such as an addiction to social media and pornography.

The risk of addiction tends to be higher among certain groups of people, influenced by certain factors such as peer pressure, depression, trauma, work or family-related stress, education, relationships, and heartbreaks.

The desire to continuously relive the euphoric experience of addictive substances or behaviors leads to cravings for that experience, which often serve as the first sign of addiction.

As you continue using a substance or engaging in a behavior, your brain produces a large amount of a chemical substance called dopamine (the feel-good hormone). The brain soon recognizes a high amount of dopamine in your body, less in response to biological triggers, leading to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression resulting from craving addictive pleasures.

A recent study suggests that approximately 60% of people who experience a form of mental disorder have a history of substance use at some point in their lives.

People who are addicts engage in the use of harmful substances or behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite the consequences. However, addiction is treatable with treatment plans and procedures such as medically induced complex interactions within brain circuits, change of addictive environment, and therapy revolving around the individual’s life experiences. 

What are the signs of addiction?

All addictions involve physical or psychological processes. Each person’s background of addiction is slightly different, are generally some common signs that are synonymous with substance and behavioral addictions.

Common signs of addiction include:

  • Changes in social groups, new and unusual friends, odd phone conversations
  • Drug paraphernalia such as pipes, cigarettes, needles, and syringes
  •  Financial problems
  • Repeated unexplained outings, often with a sense of urgency and no directions
  • Secretiveness
  • Stealing and lying
  •  Sexual trade to get free drugs
  •  Body itches and fidgeting
  • Poor Hygiene 
  • Experience trouble doing daily routines and loss of interest in things like cooking or working.
  • Lack of sleep and proper dieting
  • Bloodshot eyes and bloody nose

How is addiction treated?

  • The first step to tackling addictions is to admit that there is a problem. This admittance shows you dare to face your addiction and its underlying causes. Reflect on what is important to you, how addiction has negatively affected you, and how your life will improve positively.
  • Seek professional help and engage in therapy sessions such as Individual Therapy, Group Therapy, Family Therapy, peer support groups, and Chemical Dependency Counseling.
  • Change Your environment and avoid the same routines or habits. Exposure to an addictive environment increases the chances of relapsing.
  • Seek medical treatments.
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