Addiction is a disease characterized by an uncontrollable craving for a specific substance or activity. This can be about alcohol, medication, drugs or even sex or gambling. Addiction disorders usually have serious psychological and/or physical consequences for those affected.
What are addictions?
Experts understand the term addiction as a dependency on a substance or an activity that the person concerned cannot control. For kniest dysplasia in English, please visit gradphysics.com.
Physicians differentiate accordingly between a substance-related and a substance-unrelated dependency. The latter is also referred to as activity addiction. Substance addictions refer to a substance such as alcohol, drugs, or medication. Activity addictions can include gambling, work, sex, or even sports. The affected person experiences a feeling of elation or relaxation by acting out his addiction.
The experience represents a temporary escape from reality and must be repeated once the associated feeling has worn off. In return, those affected sometimes accept criminal acts. Some addictions are socially accepted, while others are generally rejected.
The causes of addiction have not yet been scientifically clarified. In principle, however, it can be stated that social as well as biological and psychological factors are involved in the development of addiction.
People are often affected who have to deal with a severe psychological trauma and cannot deal with the experiences they have had. Even socially disadvantaged people whose lives are difficult tend to become addicted.
On the other hand, wealthy people can also be affected if, for example, they feel bored with life and are therefore looking for an escape from reality. Addiction disorders occur in all social classes and affect people with the most diverse personality structures.
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
The first sign of addiction is often that the person uses the substance more often or longer than originally planned – or that he spends more time at the slot machine or computer than intended. At this point, however, many addicts convince themselves that they still have their drug use or behavior under control.
Eventually, when the person tries to reduce or stop using, it is unsuccessful or involves considerable effort. As a rule, the addict is aware that continued use has negative effects, even if he can deny this to other people.
In order to pursue the addiction, those affected often withdraw. They isolate themselves privately and often cut themselves off from their families. They may not be able to do their chores around the house, take care of their children, or work as they used to. Addicts often give up their hobbies. Many addictions lead to financial problems as the money is spent on drugs or gambling.
A clear sign of substance dependence is the development of tolerance. The same dose of a drug causes a weaker effect than before. Addicts therefore often increase the dose. If the addiction cannot be lived out, withdrawal symptoms appear. Which symptoms the withdrawal leads to depends on the addictive substance. In behavioral addictions, withdrawal symptoms can include restlessness, anxiety, aggression, and mood swings.
Diagnosis & History
If an addiction is present, a diagnosis is often difficult, because those affected usually only admit their problem when they are already suffering from severe physical or mental impairments.
The mere consumption of the addictive substance or its amount does not provide any information about the existence of an addiction. The attending doctor must therefore combine psychological and medical tests and, in addition to a detailed discussion, carry out blood and hair tests. The abuse of substances in particular can be determined by the physical effects.
Addiction disorders always require treatment, otherwise they will continue to intensify and affect those affected and their environment. In addition, substance-related dependencies in particular damage the body and can potentially be fatal.
Addiction disorders can cause a variety of physical, mental and psychosocial complications. Addiction to drugs or alcohol often results in irreparable liver damage, and seizures and sensory disturbances caused by nerve damage are also possible. In many cases, memory deteriorates, and heavy alcoholics often suffer from dementia known as Korsakoff syndrome.
Some drugs trigger hallucinations that are extremely frightening for those affected or make them overconfident, which can result in fatal accidents or suicide. Perceptual disorders, delusions and motor disorders often occur during withdrawal, and many addicts suffer from depression during the drug-free period. If drugs are injected, there is a risk of infection with hepatitis or HIV through infected needles.
Drug or alcohol overdose can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Addiction is very often accompanied by neglect of food intake, which is reflected in weight loss and deficiency symptoms. Other complications can include heart damage, kidney failure, lung disease and a weakened immune system.
As life revolves around addiction, friends, family, work and hobbies are neglected until the social fabric eventually falls apart. In many cases, the long-term consequences are job loss, separation from a partner, and social and economic collapse.
When should you go to the doctor?
In the case of addictions, a doctor should be consulted for substance as well as non-substance addictions. Regardless of which need the person concerned wants to be satisfied again and again, help should be sought. A doctor can help bring about changes in the case of severe excessive consumption of alcohol, nicotine or excessive consumption of food. If the person concerned has the feeling of suffering, medical help is indicated.
The use of drugs, the urge to spend large amounts of money every day or the inevitable consumption of sweets are signs of an existing health irregularity. As soon as thoughts revolve around the fulfillment of one need, a doctor can be consulted. If attention disorders, inner restlessness or aggressiveness occur as soon as the addiction is not satisfied, a doctor’s visit is necessary. If several hours a day are spent almost compulsively satisfying a need, the person concerned needs medical support.
Excessive computer gaming, drug use, or an obsessive need to receive compliments and approval should be discussed with a doctor. If there are vegetative problems, sleep disorders, headaches or the loss of the social environment, a doctor’s consultation is necessary. An inner stress experience as well as compulsive behavior are alarm signals of the organism.
Treatment & Therapy
If an addiction has been diagnosed, the treating doctor must initiate appropriate therapy. This consists of medical and psychological components. If physical damage is already present, it must be treated with medication or surgical interventions.
However, the main focus is on psychological therapy. The treatment begins with withdrawal, in which the person concerned is detoxified under medical supervision and is no longer allowed to consume the respective substance or carry out the respective activity. This is followed by weaning, which is intended to help achieve permanent abstinence from the individual addictive substance. This includes talk therapy and dealing with personal problems that may have led to the development of the addiction.
The patient’s family or partner is often involved here as well. Resocialization measures help those affected to return to everyday life. Such therapy can last for several months or even years. Addicts generally have a very high risk of relapse, which is why it is not uncommon for those affected to have to undergo therapy more than once before the desired abstinence can be achieved. Basically, there is a lifelong risk of relapse.
Addiction can only be prevented to a limited extent, for example when a person affected notices the first signs of addiction. Relatives and friends can also go to a counseling center if they suspect that they may be addicted. There are counseling centers all over Germany and they can also be contacted anonymously.
Follow-up care is a necessity in the case of addiction, because addicts are considered to be mentally unstable. Even if an affected person has regained inner stability after successful therapy, a worsening of the condition can never be ruled out. Follow-up treatments for addictions take place in both psychotherapeutic and behavioral forms.
There are substance-related and non-substance-related addictions. The first category includes alcohol addiction or addiction to illegal drugs. The second group includes eating disorders, shopping or gambling addictions. A substance-related addiction is usually treated in a rehab clinic. In the case of non-substance-related addictions, the doctor uses behavioral therapy.
In contrast, aftercare for both forms of addiction aims to prepare those affected for an addiction-free future. In doing so, they learn to consciously abstain from using drugs and to better control their own behavior. Despite successful completion of therapy, an addict can suffer a relapse.
In such situations, contact points are named as part of the follow-up care that the person concerned should turn to. Parallel to the therapeutic approaches, self-help groups have a positive effect on the development of the patient. The exchange with other affected people takes place in a more informal atmosphere than in therapy sessions with a psychologist. Addicts can also benefit from this.
Typical & common diseases
- Nicotine Addiction (Nicotine Dependence)
- alcohol addiction
- drug addiction
- gambling addiction
- sex addiction
- computer game addiction
- internet addiction
You can do that yourself
People who suffer from an addiction usually need professional help from a psychologist or therapist. Depending on the type and severity of the addiction, treatment with medication or even inpatient treatment may be necessary.
In the case of addiction to stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or food, a change in diet and general lifestyle can be useful. If an alcohol or nicotine addiction is detected early, an intervention often succeeds without professional support. It is important to recognize the warning signs of addiction and to take the necessary measures, such as contacting a therapist or a self-help group or making a lifestyle change. Which measure makes sense depends on the individual case.
In the case of drug addiction, controlled withdrawal must be carried out. Seriously alcoholic people should also go to a clinic for withdrawal, as complications such as delirium tremens can occur. In the case of anorexia or overeating, a nutrition plan must be drawn up with professional help. Depending on the cause of the eating disorder, physicians and therapists must also be involved here, for example to determine organic causes or to work through internal conflicts.