At its very core, addiction is a dependence, obsession, or compulsion to something, despite its harmful consequences. Millions of people suffer from addiction. Types of addiction include: drug, alcohol, work, credit card, computer, video game, television, pornography, sex, gambling, overeating, shopping, and debt.
The very nature of addiction is controversial. Today, many consider addiction a disease. Medically speaking, addiction may be a chronic illness of the nervous system, a neurobiological disorder encompassing genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors. In fact, many psychiatric disorders are classified as neurobiological, like schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorders, bipolar disorders, and autism. However, there are also those who consider addicts to be self-indulgent individuals who lack the will power to overcome addiction, and still others who see addiction as a choice – an alternative standard of living, albeit a socially taboo one. Some attribute addiction to heredity, and some attribute addiction to abusive, negligent, or insolvent childhoods. Studies show that certain environmental and genetic factors do indeed increase the risk of addiction, and that biology and behavior are most likely intertwined. Psychologists and scientists continue to work on understanding what causes addiction.
Symptoms of addiction include:
- The inability to handle everyday responsibilities at home, work, or school
- A disregard of dangerous or painful consequences
- A loss of control
- Frequent cravings
- Extreme, irrational, or risky behavior
- A physical dependence
- Feelings of euphoria followed by deep depression
- Self-imposed isolation
- Deteriorating relationships
- Harmful changes in behaviors and attitudes
- Thoughts of suicide or homicide
Addictions don’t just go away. Living with an addiction involves a daily commitment to control harmful habits, compulsions, dependences, needs, obsessions, and cravings. A psychologist can help you find ways to manage your addiction.