What is the process of addictions Common types and symptoms?

The disease of addiction is chronic (lifelong). Addicts have an overwhelming need or drive to consume risky substances or partake in harmful activities despite being aware of the potential negative effects on their lives. Even when they try to stop, they are physically or emotionally unable to do it. Addiction can harm relationships, caused issues at work, and result in financial and legal issues if it is not treated.

Excessive drug and alcohol usage can be lethal and result in a number of major health problems. Rehab, counselling, and medication are all part of addiction treatment. Sadly, addiction is fairly widespread. In the US, there are about 20 million people who have a substance use issue.

Substances that unnaturally raise dopamine levels in the reward circuit are frequently referred to as having a substance use disorder. These substances include nicotine, alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription painkillers (alcoholism). The most well-known type of addiction is to substances, however behavioural addictions, such as the following, can also affect people:

  • Dieting or exercise.
  • Eating.
  • Gambling.
  • theft from stores or other dangerous actions.
  • witnessing or engaging in sexual activity.
  • Shopping.
  • Internet use with video games.
Who is most prone to become addicted?

Anyone can acquire a substance use disorder, but those who have a history of addiction in their families are more likely to do so. Co-morbid drug use disorders are more common in people with mental health conditions such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Notably, groups that identify as homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender are also susceptible to substance use disorders since they suffer from a disproportionately high number of psychiatric problems compared to heterosexuals. These experiences include several contributing factors, such as discrimination and problems with family dynamics.

What are the symptoms of addiction?

Addiction symptoms differ from individual to person. Some addicts manage to carry out their everyday activities with ease. They keep their habits or actions from others. Others experience severe symptoms, such as:

Inability to stop using: Despite wanting to stop, some people continue to use drugs or participate in risky addictive behaviours. They may have made numerous attempts to reduce or stop using but have been unsuccessful.

In time, people could require more alcohol, drugs, or nicotine to experience the same euphoric sensations that they did at first due to increased tolerance. Additionally, they might need to keep using the same dosage to manage the physiological and psychological withdrawals that come with stopping or even cutting back on substance usage. This occurs as a result of their bodies developing a tolerance to the drugs.

intense preoccupation with substances or actions: Addicts develop a pathological preoccupation with drugs, alcohol, or risky actions. Due to the fact that they are spending an increasing amount of time seeking, acquiring, and thinking about their chosen addiction, they may feel as though it has taken over their lives.

Lack of control: They frequently experience a sense of helplessness and may believe they no longer have any control over their drug usage. They frequently experience feelings of guilt, depression, and/or overwhelm due to their addiction and how it has affected their lives.

Their addiction frequently has an adverse effect on all facets of their lives, including their physical and mental health, interpersonal connections, and careers. They frequently alienate themselves from friends and family on purpose since they can't afford to pay their bills. They frequently have unpleasant interactions with the legal system, such as getting arrested for driving while intoxicated. Again, despite being aware of the harm their addictions are causing them, they are unable to stop using.

Withdrawal: When an addict stop using, they endure both emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms. Physical signs include trembling, perspiration, or nausea. They might also experience anxiety, sadness, or rage.

What causes people to become addicted?

Addiction isn't brought on by one particular factor. Anyone can acquire a substance use disorder, and many different circumstances can increase someone's risk.

Several elements raise the risk, including:

Drug use issues may be inherited due to genetics (passed down through families). You are more likely to develop a substance use disorder if there is a family history of addiction. It doesn't necessarily follow that you will, though. For instance, novelty seeking and impulsivity are hereditary features that are frequently present in people with substance use disorders, but having these traits does not guarantee that you will acquire a substance use disorder.

Environmental variables: Addiction development is also influenced by a combination of environmental and lifestyle factors. These include excessive stress or trauma, violence, poverty, access to drugs, drug use during youth, and having access to narcotics.

Drug use: The "reward centre" of the brain undergoes modifications as a result of all addictive chemicals, including opioids. In order to maintain their state of pleasure, these alterations make them want more and more drugs. The urges to use drugs may be so intense that they take precedence. For a number of reasons, some people are influenced by these substances more than others. Relationships, work obligations, and other commitments are all optional.

Bipolar illness, PTSD, and depression are among the mental health conditions that frequently coexist with substance use disorders. Substance use disorders are more likely to develop in people with mental health issues.

Your healthcare practitioner can suggest you see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or drug and alcohol counsellor for an addiction diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will inquire about your activities and usage patterns, as well as those of your loved ones. If you've tried to cut back on drinking or using drugs, let your provider know why.

Tell us if you have ever tried to stop and experienced either physical or psychological withdrawal symptoms. In addition to a physical exam, your healthcare professional could request samples of your blood and urine. These tests provide information to your doctor about your general health. They may also aid in eliminating underlying medical issues.

Prepared by: Mr. Denny Prasad, Psychologist
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