What is addiction? If you ask several individuals that question the typical response would be. “That’s when you are addicted to drugs or alcohol”. Is this correct? Yes. However, is that the only addiction there is presently in our society? No. Addiction is more involved than just drugs and alcohol. It involves behavioral aspects as well. It’s Important to understand what exactly addiction can include in order to be able to focus on a healthy recovery process because typically individuals early in recovery can be challenged with the idea of replacing one addiction for another especially if they are not aware of the addictive personality they may have or knowledge that other activities can be an addiction as well.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the definition of an addiction includes;
“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry and is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and relief by substance use and other behaviors. The addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationship.”
An addiction is mostly known for the addiction to drugs such as marijuana, opioids, cocaine, alcohol, and other drugs. Alcoholism is the inability to control drinking due to both a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol. An alcohol abuse disorder refers to a long-term addiction to alcohol. Meaning that a person with this condition does not know when or how to stop drinking. They spend a lot of time thinking about alcohol, and they cannot control how much they consume, even if it is causing serious problems at home, work, and financially. It’s important to understand that an alcoholic does not always drink daily. Alcoholism is characterized by the inability to control the intake of alcohol. Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medication. Depending on the specific drug used it can cause a lot of social, physical, emotional, and cognitive concerns for the individual who is abusing them. Similar to, alcohol use, the use of drugs can lead to a lot of serious problems at home, work, and financially.
Other addictions include behavioral addictions which are classified by the fact they don’t involve a substance. This can include the following; gambling, sex, shopping, food (overeating and not eating enough like an anorexia and bulimia diagnosis), video games, pain, working, and exercise to name a few. Behavioral addictions are characterized more with the inability to control (losing control over the situation or activity) regardless of the personal, financial, and emotional consequences which again is very similar to the drug and alcohol addictions.
Gambling addiction can typically resemble a substance dependence. Individuals who are struggling with this type of addiction typically can’t control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences.
Individuals who are struggling with an eating disorder tends to create compulsive or uncontrollable behaviors around food to occur. This compulsive behavior may be in response to an emotion, such as stress, sadness, or anger. This can include conditions known as bulimia and anorexia.
Individuals who are presently struggling with these addictions tend to lose control of their ability to walk away from the web, put the video game down, or control their spending whether it is online or in the store.
Sex addiction can best be described as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. This can lead to a lot of problematic behaviors especially within a marriage as it includes risky behaviors.
Treatment for the use of drugs typically are similar to alcohol use as it also includes detox, inpatient, and residential services which is then followed up with outpatient services which again can include PHP or IOP depending on the level of care that is recommended at that time. 12 Step meetings like NA (Narcotic Anonymous) are also extremely beneficial for any individual who is exploring recover
Treatment for behavioral addiction can be a little different. For example, gambling and eating addictions are typically treated the same way that drug and alcohol addiction is typically treated. Inpatient and outpatient services along with support groups are usually recommended. Eating disorders can be more complex due to a lot of the external and internal factors that come into play. Inpatient treatment typically is longer for individuals who are working through their recovery process from bulimia and/or anorexia. There tends to be more emotional factors and mental health concerns that are associated with the self-image and the need to control the food intake therefore it is more of an in-depth process. Treatment however for sex addiction, video games, and working typically is completed through counseling services and support groups.
Individuals who struggle with addiction can struggle with any type of addiction whether it is drugs, alcohol, or a behavioral addiction like food or exercise. Despite the type of addiction present for any individual it is important to remember there are resources available. Counseling services are located all over the world and most of the itme therapist have specialty areas which will allow you to feel more comfortable when engaging with a therapist who may specialize in sex addiction, gambling addiction, or drug and alcohol addiction. Treatment programs are also able to be specific. For example, there are specific locations throughout the United States that focus solely on eating disorders. Do your research, reach out for help, allow others to help you when you are feeling overwhelmed. Recovery is possible for everyone!
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