In my 15 years working in the area of addiction the question is asked always is “What causes addiction?”
How Does addiction start ?
No one wants to be addicted to drugs, alcohol , gambling. food, sex, internet, but this does not stop people from getting addicted. The most commonly asked question is simply how could my father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, friend become a liar, a thief , someone who I have learned to not trust. How could this happen? and why wont this stop?
The first thing you must understand about addiction is that alcohol and addictive drugs are basically pain killers. They chemically kill physical or emotional pain and alter the minds perception of reality. They make people numb.
What is Addiction?
Whether a person is genetically or bio-chemically predisposed to addiction or alcholism is a controversy that has been debated for years within the scientific community.
One school of thought advocates the “disease concept” embracing the notion that addiction is an inherited disease, and that the individual is permanently ill at a genetic level, even for those experiencing long periods of sobriety (12 steps fellowships ).
Another philosophy argues that addiction is a dual problem consisting of a physical and mental dependency on chemicals, compounded by a pre-existing mental disorder that physicians categorise into diagnoses such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, etc. it is true that active drugs stimulate the brains pleasure centres causing either a reduction of pain or a heightening of mood.
A third philosophy subscribes to the idea that chemical dependency stems from chemical imbalances in the neurological system. The truth in this theory is that repeated use of addictive drugs results in a physical dependency or tolerance where increased amounts of the drug must be taken to achieve the same results. Tolerance occurs when the person no longer responds to the drug in the way that he/she initially responded.
The facts remains that there is scientific researach to support all of these concepts. The question of whether addiction is genetic, behavioural or biochemical does not have an absolute answer. The one distinguishing feature that is present in every theory or philosophy of the causes of and cures for, addiction is the ability of the drug to dominate the individuals behaviour regardless of whether phyical dependence is also produced by the drug
or not. There are a wide variety of treatment methods being used today, their administration being used on whatever school of thought the treatment provider believes in.
With a 16% to 20% recovery rate based on statistical analyses of national averages, the message is clear that we have a lot more to learn if we are to bring the national recovery rate a more desirable level.
• Drug use (Drug addiction can either be associated with illegal drugs, prescription drugs and over the counter drugs).
• Alcohol use
• Food (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.)
• Internet use
Any activity, substance, object or behaviour that has become the major focus of a persons life to the exclusion of other activities or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally or socially is considered an addictive behaviour.