Addictions are defined by a persistent condition that causes a person to engage in activities that may produce short-term pleasurable feelings/thoughts/sensations, but that over the long term interfere with life in a way that has negative and sometimes very harmful consequences. While some addictions revolve around substance abuse (such as alcohol, nicotine, or other mind-altering substances/drugs), others are concerned with addictive behaviors/actions. Gambling falls in this category, as do sex addiction and internet addiction.
Common Symptoms of Addiction
• Increased tolerance
• Aggression or violence
• Preference to use above other duties or activities
• Decreased performance at work or school
• Withdrawal, such as sweating or shaking, after not using
Addictions can be conceptualized as an inability to calm emotional stress without the aid of a foreign substance. One might assume that the addictive behavior was at one time a short term remedy to a distressing situation. In this time, emotional overwhelm may have found temporary relief due to the introduction of the addictive substance or behavior. Unfortunately, because the original stressor has not been properly addressed, the addiction becomes the individual’s primary method of self-regulation, and the more stress that is introduced, the more the individual needs to find relief through the substance abuse or addictive behavior.
Treatment options for addiction range from 12 step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and self-help groups to treatment programs or psychotherapy. A therapist can aid with replacing impulsive usage due to stress with healthy coping mechanisms such as breathing techniques or positive thought patterns.