The loss of control over one’s behavior is what essentially defines the concept of addiction.
6 Characteristics of Addiction
Addicts completely loose of control over their lives and a develop frequent craving for a particular substance or activity. Although each addiction has its own characteristics (read more – addiction to drugs, alcohol, sedative/hypnotic medication, internet, gambling, sex addiction) there are some phenomenological similarities in all types of addiction.
What are the main characteristics of addiction?
Although we often determine addiction only after tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when abstaining have developed, the most important indicator is the addict’s relationship to the drug.
We say that an individual is addicted to drugs, or a psychoactive substance, when he exhibits at least three of following symptoms:
1. Preoccupation with the substance
Craving is an imperative need to take the substance at any cost, regardless of the consequences, as if life depends on it.
3. Loss of control over behavior
Behavior is becoming automatic and compulsive, and the craving and the need to engage in the activity are stronger than any natural urge.
The addict is unable to control the need for consumption, and as a result, unable succeed in reducing or stopping consumption/the activity.
4. Increased tolerance
A need for higher doses than before.
Over time, tolerance develops and higher and higher doses of the drug substance are needed to experience the same high or get the same effect as before.
Experiencing symptoms of physical withdrawal syndrome when the drug intake is discontinued.
Partaking in the activity/consuming the substance leads to a state of euphoria and improves the mood of the consument.
6. Continued use despite negative consequence
The addict continues to consume the substance/partake in the activity despite the negative consequences, which are more and more obvious side effects that affect all areas of life.
These are just some of the signs that a person may be addicted and it is not necessary for an individual to exhibit all of the signs to be considered an addict.
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Why do people take drugs, even though it’s harmful?
Taking psychoactive substances, like other addictions, induces a short-term reward, which could lead an individual to repeated use despite knowledge of the harmful consequences. Where a reward system is involved, danger of losing control over one’s behavior also exists. This leads to craving and the desire for the drug begins to occupy the user’s time and attention.
Find out whether addiction is curable.
The craving for drugs is created in the older parts of the brain. It has the quality of an urge, but it is stronger than any natural urge we have. Psychologically, the need to satisfy the craving is perceived as a matter of survival. Thus, the addict reacts to the craving it as if his life depended on it: “I must take it now, immediately, at any cost. I can’t think about the consequences or I’ll deal with them later”. Difficulty in being control of one’s behavior, in regard to making decisions when to begin, end or reduce drug use, results in failure of attempts to reduce substance intake or quit.
The individual automatically continues to do what he does not wish to do and what his common sense tells him not to do.
His behavior becomes compulsive and is forced to partake in the activity. Physiological withdrawal syndrome occurs when the individual reduces dosage or stops taking the substance.
When continuous substance abuse is suddenly stopped, for instance of heroine, a number of withdrawal symptoms occur, such as: watery eyes, runny nose, convulsions, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, joint and muscle pain. Withdrawal symptoms resemble those of severe case of flu.
Read more about the detoxification methods offered at Lorijen Addiction Center, which allow the patient to overcome the withdrawal phase quicker and easier.
Development of tolerance includes progressive increase in ingested doses of drugs in order to achieve the original effect.
Addiction is also characterized by the neglecting of things in life that brought pleasure and other interests due to substance use, an increase in the amount of time spent acquiring, taking, or recovering from a substance use, followed by repeated use it despite the adverse effects.
Learn more about SMART RECOVERY program, which is unique in its integrated approach to treatment. This program is characterized by its flexibility to adapt to the personal needs and capabilities of each patient.
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