There are many definitions of addiction; some medical, others general. Although the definition of addiction varies, it usually means the ingestion of and dependence on a psychoactive substance including alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. In layman's terms, we call it drug addiction. These substances temporarily alter the chemical status of the brain.
Now, addiction has also come to mean psychological dependency on anything from excessive gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, Internet, work, exercise, watching TV, to shopping.
Addictions are characterized by obsessive and compulsive desires that consume people’s thoughts and behaviors, and that are acted out in habitual activities aimed at getting the desired thing or indulging in the desired activity. Almost all of the above-mentioned addictions cause feelings of guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, failure, rejection, anxiety, or humiliation. Addictions are not just habits or intense interests; often, they have consequences that seriously damage and negatively affect relationships, physical, and mental health.
Usually, addicts who have substance dependence show a regular pattern of continued use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, despite clear evidence of physical, social, or work-related problems.
Although addiction can be a debilitating disease, there is hope for those who seek recovery and rehabilitation. Millions of addicts have found counseling helpful and were treated successfully and subsequently rehabilitated.
The following are various ways to deal with an addiction:
- Counseling: Professional counselors engage the addict in therapy which helps them understand the source of their addiction, and helps them deal with the addiction on a daily basis. Counseling offers support if the addict shows the willingness and will power to overcome their addiction.
- Medications: Also known as substitution therapy, this is usually used for drug and nicotine addictions, where chemically identical substances, which do not have ill effects on health, substitute the drug of choice. This treatment is given until the time when the addict is able to gradually beat the addiction. Medications can be given to inpatients and outpatients.
- Detoxification: This treatment is a choice for people with alcohol or drug addictions, where the addict checks into a facility that supports them as they go through drug withdrawals. During this treatment the addict is not allowed to ingest the addictive substances at all.
- Support groups: Addicts can access support groups at detox or treatment centers where they meet with other addicts. The process is facilitated by a counselor or addiction adviser.
- Self-help recovery groups: Self-help groups are voluntary, nonprofit associations – they do not have a formal structure and anyone can join them. Through their informal structure and participative character, they offer great help to those suffering from an addiction. These self-help groups usually follow a 12-step program. “Alcoholics Anonymous” and “Narcotics Anonymous” are good examples of anonymous self-help groups.
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