Addiction refers to a difficulty in controlling certain repetitive behaviours to the extent that they have harmful consequences. They are the result of powerful compulsions to use and do certain things excessively, often out of a need to escape from upsetting emotions/situations. These compulsions can trigger a self-perpetuating process, which can cause pain and suffering not only for those addicted, but also for their friends and family.
Addictions can develop from many activities, including drinking alcohol, taking drugs, overspending, eating, gambling, having sex and using the Internet. Often addictions begin as a result of how these activities make people feel emotionally and physically. These feelings can be pleasurable – triggering a powerful urge to carry out the activity again to recreate this ‘high’. This can develop into a repetitive cycle that becomes very hard to break.
In many cases people who are addicted are not aware of their addiction and the impact it may be having on their work, relationships and health. As a result many are unable to quit on their own and treatment is required.
Generally an addiction is defined as a habit that has become out of control to the extent that the sufferer is dependent on it for coping with daily life. It can also have negative repercussions on a person’s emotional well-being and physical health. The psychological link in particular is what separates an addiction from a simple activity that someone does on a regular basis. A standard habit is something that people can choose to stop, and will subsequently be able to do so successfully. Put simply, with a habit a person is in control of their choices, but with an addiction they are not.