Definition of addiction
Addiction has been defined as “a state in which the body relies on a substance or behavior for normal functioning.” When the substance is cut off or the behavior curtailed, the result is withdrawal symptoms. Addiction can be described as a compulsion to engage in an activity despite significant consequences.
Though the word “addiction” is most often used to refer to drug or alcohol dependence – and termed Substance addiction — we can be addicted to activities such as gambling, compulsive overeating, bulimia, anorexia, co-dependency, sex, pornography, or shopping, hording. These kinds of addictions are called Behavior addictions or process addictions.
Difference between habit and addiction
Many of us acquire the habit of using a substance or becoming engaged in an activity – and suffer no consequences. We can stop if we choose. What sets an addiction apart is that we continue with the substance or behavior despite consequences that are predictable and increasingly serious. Many believe they have a habit, however when they try to stop they realise they are not able to or they experience withdrawals.
Habit – it is done by choice. The person with the habit can choose to stop, and be able to do so using free will.
Addiction – there is a psychological and physical component. The person continues to abuse a substance or engage in a behavior despite obvious and repeated harmful consequences because he or she has lost the power of choice and has developed the disease of addiction.
Below are a number of signs that may indicate addiction in a person.
Please note that some of these signs may point to other problems and usually a number of these would need to present.
Physical Signs of Addiction
- Over-active or under-active (depending on the drug)
- Repetitive speech patterns
- Dilated pupils, red eyes
- Excessive sniffing and runny nose (not attributable to a cold)
- Looking pale or undernourished
- Clothes do not fit the same
- Weight loss
- Change in eating habits
- Unusual odors or body odor due to lack of personal hygiene
behavioral Signs of Addiction
- Missing work/school
- Work/school problems
- Missing important engagements
- Isolating/secretive about activities
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Legal problems
- Relationship/marital problems
- Financial problems (e.g. always needing money)
- Conversations dominated by using or drug/alcohol related topics
Emotional Signs of Addiction
- Inability to deal with stress
- Loss of interest in activities/people that used to be part of their lives
- Confused easily
- Rationalizing – Offering alibis, excuses, justifications, or other explanations for their using behavior
- Minimization – Admitting superficially to the problem but not admitting to the seriousness or full scope of the behavior or consequences
- Blaming – Placing the blame for the behavior on someone else or some event
- Diversion – Changing the subject to avoid discussing the topic
If you suspect that you or a family member need additions counselling you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Counselling available to the family member of an addict as well as to the addict, for more information on supporting the family of an addict please click here