What is addiction?
Addiction is a complex mental illness where the sufferer can’t control their compulsive substance use or behaviour, despite knowing about the many harmful consequences.
While addiction may exist as a stand-alone disorder, research has revealed that 80% of addicts suffer from other psychiatric illnesses such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Unresolved issues from the past and current social circumstances may contribute to the cycle of addiction and depression.
Addictive behaviour may take many forms, including alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, prescription medication, or sex. People with substance use disorder have distorted thinking and behaviour patterns that do not follow logic and ignore evidence. Studies have shown that there are changes in the areas of the brain that affect judgment, decision making, learning, memory, and behaviour. This can negatively impact how addicts engage with tasks
What are the signs of addictive behaviour?
- Several failed attempts to cut down, manage use or quit
- Impaired relationships with family, friends and colleagues
- Risky and dangerous behaviour
- Continued use of the substance or engagement in the behaviour despite progressive health risks
- Tolerance developing over time and withdrawal symptoms
What is substance abuse?
Substance abuse disorder is officially diagnosed when someone’s relationship with the specific substance or behaviour (alcohol, drugs, gambling, or even sex) becomes the primary relationship in their life, overtaking relationships with family, friends, loved ones, work or studies. Isolation from loved ones and disengagement from everyday life becomes progressively worse.
The consequences affect many areas of function including work, home, and relationships. Frequent absences from work, school, university or college, poor job performance (which may lead to potential job loss), alienation of the family, loss of friends, cessation of normal activities, and changes in mood, appearance and behaviour all are common long term consequences.
Unfortunately, addiction is a disorder that extends far beyond the sufferer. Family members are also affected by substance use disorders as they experience the slow and painful erosion of trust and mutual respect, the inevitable build-up of anger and frustration, and the ultimate breakdown of the family unit.