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Addiction is a disease that can be triggered by environmental, behavioral, or psychological causes. This chronic disease involves problems around the stimulation of the brain’s risk and reward symptoms. People who suffer from the disease of addiction find themselves compulsively in pursuit of pleasurable stimulation of their brain’s natural reward systems or relief of psychological pain. This stimulation can come from ingesting a substance like alcohol, nicotine, or heroin, or from a behavior like gambling or sex.
General signs that a person might be suffering from an addiction include:
For people who struggle with addiction, their behavior is compulsive; it is not a choice, and it is not a failure of willpower. People who suffer from addiction have a disease. While it can be managed with professional help, people struggling with this disease do not have a choice regarding the condition; like other diseases, they can’t flip a switch to turn it off. However, it is important for individuals who struggle with addiction to a substance or behavior to get help as soon as possible. Without help, they can suffer physical side effects that cause chronic illness or even death; emotional side effects, like damage to relationships; financial problems; higher risk of comorbid diseases; and psychological side effects, including long-term cognitive impairment.
There are a few behaviors that are common among all people who suffer from addiction. However, some physical symptoms differ depending on the substance or behavior that is involved in the addiction. Here are a few symptoms of addiction based on specific behaviors and substances:
Whether a person suffers from an addiction to a substance or behavior, it is important to get treatment to prevent further damage. Substance use disorders can be physically dangerous and may require medical detox in addition to comprehensive therapy.
Professional help offers individuals struggling with addiction the best chances of achieving long-term recovery. When individuals attempt to quit on their own, the chances of relapse are generally higher. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities work well because they allow medical oversight for individuals struggling with substance use disorders, in addition to individual therapy, group therapy, and complementary therapies and activities.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has been shown as an effective treatment for behavioral addictions, as well as substance use disorders, by helping individuals recognize when they have cravings and find other ways to cope with stress and the desire for the addictive behavior. Talk therapy can help individuals uncover the underlying issues that contributed to their struggle with addiction. Group therapy can provide social and emotional support from others struggling with similar issues.