What is Addiction?
According to Psychology Today, “Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (e.g., alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (e.g., gambling, sex, shopping) that can be pleasurable but the continued use/act of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work, relationships, or health. Users may not be aware that their behavior is out of control and causing problems for themselves and others.”
1 Corinthians 10:13-14
13 No temptationa has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be temptedb beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,c he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The word addiction is used in several different ways. One definition describes physical addiction. This is a biological state in which the body adapts to the presence of a drug so that drug no longer has the same effect, otherwise known as a tolerance. Another form of physical addiction is the phenomenon of overreaction by the brain to drugs (or to cues associated with the drugs). An alcoholic walking into a bar, for instance, will feel an extra pull to have a drink because of these cues.
However, most addictive behavior is not related to either physical tolerance or exposure to cues. People compulsively use drugs, gamble, or shop nearly always in reaction to being emotionally stressed, whether or not they have a physical addiction. Since these psychologically based addictions are not based on drug or brain effects, they can account for why people frequently switch addictive actions from one drug to a completely different kind of drug, or even to a non-drug behavior. The focus of the addiction isn’t what matters; it’s the need to take action under certain kinds of stress. Treating this kind of addiction requires an understanding of how it works psychologically.
- The major symptom of addiction is the inability to limit use of a substance or activity beyond need leading to clinically significant impairment.
- A craving or compulsion to use the substance or activity.
- Recurrent use of the drug or activity escalates to achieve the desired effect, indicating tolerance.
- Attempts to stop usage produce symptoms of withdrawal—irritability, anxiety, shakes, nausea.
- Recurrent use of the substance or activity impairs work, social, and family responsibilities, creates psychological impairments and interpersonal problems, has negative effects on health, mood, self-respect, exacerbated by the effects of the specific substance itself.
There are many symptoms created by the specific substance/activity that is used.
All addictions have the capacity to induce feelings of shame and guilt, a sense of hopelessness, and feelings of failure. In addition, anxiety and depression are common conditions among those with substance and behavioral addictions.
There are no specific causes of any addiction aside from use of a substance or activity, and there is no way to predict who will become dependent on use.
Any substance or activity that has the capacity to be pleasurable can provide the conditions for addiction.
All addictions impact various neural circuits of the brain, including those related to reward, motivation, and memory.
Addiction is a treatable condition. The first phase of treatment from is withdrawal from the problem substance/activity.
There are both physical and psychological effects that occur when substance-taking stops
- Nausea and vomiting
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills and sweats
- Muscle cramps and aches
- Shifts in heart rate
Emotional effects include
- Mood swings
Withdrawal symptoms typically last three to five days. While they are rarely life-threatening, medical supervision is usually provided in residential treatment programs, and medications may be given to ameliorate the acute discomfort of withdrawal.
Behavioral therapy and counseling are important elements of treatment. Addiction is a common reason that people reach out to us at Christian Therapist on Demand for services. At Christian Therapist on Demand cognitive behavioral therapy is used to help patients identify, avoid, and cope with situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs or activities. The technique of motivational interviewing is often employed to remind people of their values, as a way of avoiding use. Family therapy may be provided to help the patient maintain a supportive environment and improve family functioning.
Rehabilitation programs are often needed to help patients regain necessary job and other skills.