What is addiction?

Addiction is a condition that results when a person ingests a substance (alcohol, cocaine, nicotine) or engages in an activity (gambling) that can be pleasurable but the continued use of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary life responsibilities, such as work or relationships, or health.

What is the difference between a habit and an addiction?

Addiction -The person is unable to control aspects of the addiction without help because of the mental or physical conditions involved. Habit - The person with the habit can choose to stop, and will subsequently stop successfully if they want to.

Why do people take drugs?

People take drugs because they want to change something about their lives.

1. To fit in

2. To escape or relax

3. To relieve boredom

4. To seem grown up

5. To rebel

6. To experiment

Substance Related Addictions

This includes dependence on any of the following:

1. Tobacco
A tobacco addiction is harder to hide than other addictions. This is largely because tobacco is legal, easily obtained, and can be consumed in public. While some individuals can smoke socially or occasionally, others become addicted. An addiction may be present if the person:

a) Cannot stop smoking or chewing, despite attempts to quit

b) Has withdrawal symptoms when he or she tries to quit ( shaky hands, sweating, irritability, or rapid heart rate).

c) Must smoke or chew after every meal or after long periods of time of not using it, like after a movie or work meeting

d) Needs tobacco products to feel "normal" or turns to them during times of stress

e) Gives up activities or won't attend events where smoking or tobacco use is not allowed

f) Continues to smoke despite health problems

2. Alcohol
Common signs of alcohol abuse:

a) Repeatedly neglecting your responsibilities at home, work, or school because of your drinking

b) Using alcohol in situations where it's physically dangerous

c) Continuing to drink even though your alcohol use is causing problems in your relationships

d) Drinking as a way to relax or de-stress.

3. Heroin and Cocaine

a) Bad teeth

b) Inflammation of the gums

c) Constipation

d) Itching and cold sweats

e) Weakening of the immune system

f) Respiratory (breathing) illnesses

g) Muscular weakness, partial paralysis

h) Reduced sexual capacity and long-term impotence in men

i) Menstrual disturbance in women

j) Inability to achieve orgasm (women and men)

k) Loss of memory and intellectual performance

l) Introversion and depression

m) Pustules on the face

n) Loss of appetite

o) Insomnia

4. Crystal Meth

a) Dilated pupils

b) Weight loss

c) Eye twitching

d) Loss of appetite

e) Repetitive behaviour

f) Hyperactivity

Behavioural or Process Addictions

Although not well studied, many behaviours appear to have reinforcing properties, and may involve excesses related to:

1. Gambling
You may have a gambling problem if you:

a) Feel the need to be secretive about your gambling

b) Have trouble controlling your gambling. Once you start gambling, can you walk away?

c) Gamble even when you don't have the money. A red flag is when you are getting more and more desperate to recoup your losses.

d) Family and friends are worried about you.

2. Food
Here are 7 common symptoms that are typical of food addicts:

a) You frequently get cravings for certain foods, despite feeling full and having just finished a nutritious meal.

b) When you give in and start eating a food you were craving, you often find yourself eating much more than you intended to.

c) When you eat a food you were craving, you sometimes eat to the point of feeling excessively "stuffed."

d) You sometimes make excuses in your head about why you should eat something that you are craving.

e) You have repeatedly tried to quit eating or setting rules (includes cheat meals/days) about certain foods, but been unsuccessful.

f) You often hide your consumption of unhealthy foods from others.

g) You feel unable to control your consumption of unhealthy foods, despite knowing that they are causing you physical harm (including weight gain).

3. Sex

a) Frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended.

b) Being preoccupied with or persistently craving sex.

c) Spending considerable time in activities related to sex, such as cruising for partners or spending hours online visiting pornographic web sites.

d) Neglecting obligations such as work, school or family in pursuit of sex.

e) Continually engaging in sexual behaviour despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or potential health risks.

f) Escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effect, such as more frequent visits to prostitutes or more sex partners.

g) Feeling irritable when unable to engage in the desired behaviour.

4. Video Games

a) Lying about how much time you spend playing computer or video games

b) Playing computer or video games results in intense feelings of pleasure or guilt that seem uncontrollable

c) Withdrawing from friends, family, or spouse to the point of disrupting family, social, or work life

d) Experiencing feelings of anger, depression, moodiness, anxiety, restlessness when not gaming

e) Spending significant sum of money for online services, computer upgrades, or gaming systems

f) Thinking obsessively about being on computer or playing video games even when doing other things

5. Work

a) Long hours at the office, even when not necessary

b) Losing sleep to engage in work projects or finish tasks

c) Obsession with work-related success

d) Intense fear of failure at work

e) Paranoia about work-related performance

f) Disintegration of personal relationships because of work

g) Defensive attitude toward others about behaviour

h) Use of work as a way to avoid human relationships, or life crisis like death, divorce, or financial trouble

Treatment Approaches to Tobacco Addiction:

1. Cognitive-behavioural therapy: It seeks to help patients recognize, avoid, and cope with the situations in which they are most likely to abuse drugs.

2. Multidimensional family therapy: It is developed for adolescents with drug abuse problems, as well as for their family. It addresses a range of influences on their drug abuse patterns and is designed to improve overall family functioning.

3. Motivational interviewing: It capitalizes on the readiness of individuals to change their behaviour and enter treatment.

4. Motivational incentives : It uses positive reinforcement to encourage abstinence from drugs.

Principles of Change (Tips)

1. The belief that you can change is the key to change as it encourages commitment to the process and enhances the likelihood of success.

2. People can select how they want to pursue change in line with their own values and preferences. They don't need to be told how to change.

3. Brief treatments can change longstanding habits. It is not the duration of the treatment that allows people to change but rather its ability to inspire continued efforts in that direction.

4. Repeated efforts are critical to change. Providing follow-up care allows people to maintain focus on their goals of change. Eventually, they stand a good chance of achieving them.

5. Improvement, without abstinence, counts. People do not usually succeed all at once. But they can show significant improvements; and all improvement should be accepted and rewarded.

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