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what is addiction

What is Addiction?


If you believe your loved one may be suffering from an addiction, the first step is to research and understand what addiction is, how to recognize the most common signs of an addiction, and how an addiction can affect family members and loved ones. It can be extremely difficult to acknowledge and confirm that a loved one has become addicted to a substance or behavior, but despite the natural impulse to rationalize behaviors, identifying an addiction early can be crucial to entering a successful recovery and breaking the cycle of abuse. To help you understand what addiction is, we have put together a high-level overview of addiction, common signs of addiction, and the potential effects an addiction may have on loved ones or family members.

A Breakdown of Addiction

The word addiction can be used in a number of different circumstances and to describe a variety of different situations. Broadly, addiction is a condition that develops when an individual engages in an activity (sex, shopping, gambling, etc.) or ingests a substance (alcohol, drugs, etc.) that can elicit a pleasurable response, but which the continued abuse of becomes a compulsion that interferes with day-to-day commitments, concerns, and responsibilities.

An individual suffering from an addiction may endanger their personal relationships, professional career, or health in an effort to continue to engage in the activity they are addicted to or take the substance they are addicted to. When discussing addiction, it is commonly divided into two types of addiction, physical addiction, and psychological addiction. Physical and psychological addiction often go hand in hand when analyzing individuals who are addicted to a substance, but for some types of activity driven addictions, it may be solely psychologically driven.

Physical addiction describes when an individual’s body has become reliant on drugs or alcohol, and its continued use requires a steadily increasing dosage to produce the same effect. When an individual’s body adapts to the dose of a substance it is receiving, it is called a tolerance. Many addicts ramp up their dosages to circumvent the tolerance their body develops over time. When an individual is physically addicted to a substance, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms when they cease taking the substance.

The severity and duration of the withdrawal symptoms are dependent on a number of different factors, including the type and severity of the addiction. Psychological addiction, on the other hand, is not based on the brain or body’s physical reliance on a substance, but rather is often a response to stress. An individual may shop compulsively or gamble when they are under a certain kind of stress, in essence, they are driven to take certain actions compulsively when they experience a certain type of stress.

Common Signs of Addiction

If you are worried a loved one or child may be suffering from an addiction, it is important to know some of the most common signs of addiction. It is important to keep in mind that these signs of addiction will change based on whether the addiction is activity based or substance based. Below are a handful of signs of substance abuse and addiction to remain cognizant of when analyzing a loved one’s behavior.

  • Withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities
  • Weight loss
  • Change in eating habits
  • Isolating/being secretive about activities
  • Unusual/disrupted sleep patterns
  • Legal issues
  • Financial problems
  • Missing work or school
  • Developing problems at work or school
  • Change in behavior
  • Relationship/marital issues
  • Missing important engagements
  • Dilated pupils, red eyes
  • Craving and compulsive driven behavior

How Addiction Affects Others

As a parent or loved one of someone suffering from an addiction, it can feel disheartening and invoke a sense of helplessness. Addiction not only affects the addicted individual but everyone around them. You may be noticing that your loved one is behaving strangely, hiding their actions and behaviors from you, and rationalizing recent abnormalities in their demeanor or actions.

It may be tempting to continue to help your loved one by giving them what they want and turning a blind eye to their addiction, but if you want to help your loved one overcome their addiction, it is vital to face it head-on. To help your loved one, it is important to reach out to a qualified treatment center as soon as possible to determine the path forward. If your loved one or child is suffering from an addiction, call Luminance Recovery today to get them the help they need.

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