Addiction

What is an Addiction?

Addiction is not only to substances exerting a physical effect on the body, such as drugs and alcohol, but can also be to activities such as gambling, shopping, even using the internet. 

Engaging in these activities can make you feel happy e.g. winning a bet or going on a shopping spree. Your brain releases "feel-good" chemicals, which encourage you to repeat the behaviour as it provides a "high."

This "high" can lead to an uncontrollable desire to continue with the activity, despite the negative effects it may have on your life. If this is the case, you are dealing with an addiction.    

All addictions have to be taken seriously, as they can have a huge impact on your physical and psychological health. Addictions can cause depression, sleep disturbances, panic attacks, poor performance at work, obsessive-compulsive traits and financial difficulties. 


When looking at  symptoms of addiction, many consider their behaviour to be a craving, dependence or bad habit. However, a habit is when someone has control over use and behaviour whereas an addicted individual has limited or no control. Every addiction can be associated with a range of signs and symptoms, physical and psychological. Some of the most common include:


Physical

  • Sweating, racing heart, palpitations or tremors
  • Muscle tension or difficulty breathing
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea

Psychological

  • Feelings of craving or feeling out of control
  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • Depression, guilt or shame
  • Risk-taking
  • Sleep disturbances or insomnia
  • Obsessive-compulsive traits
  • Irritability or paranoia

Other indicators that the individual is suffering from an addiction include deteriorating relationships, poor work performance and financial problems.

Further Reading on Addiction