We, in our lives, come across the word ‘addiction’ or addict. More often than not we tend to take the word in less regard than it should be credited. By very definition, addiction is a relapsing condition identifiable by compulsions despite unfavourable consequences. However, whenever one thinks of addiction it is widely associated with substance abuse, alcohol and drug addiction. Addiction spreads much further than just chemical dependency, chemical addiction is a very large and serious branch but non-chemical addictions such as behaviour addiction, and activity addiction.
Now let’s break it down, addiction is a relapsing condition, surely that only means that like diabetes and other chronic diseases, there is no cure. Substance dependence can be the various types of drugs that are taken into the body and alter brain function. Activity and behaviour addictions can be gambling, love and sex addiction, shopping, etc. But, their relationships are essential to society so how can they be harmful to an individual and how does one live their life without having to go shopping? The latter part of the definition justifies the former, it is a condition that is identified by repeated compulsions that don’t bother with the adverse outcome. It is a neuropsychiatric disorder and sometimes, people suffering can really not help themselves.
For decades now, addiction has been considered a weakness of character or a moral failing. Today, however, medical professionals understand that addiction is not a pleasure-seeking drive, it is a chronic disease. Consequently, addiction seeps through every aspect of life, friends and family grow weary of destructive behaviour patterns, and academic and professional career run loss. An individual’s belief system and values are all lost somewhere along the path of the distinct patterns of abuse.
So now the notion that addiction is a result of biological, environmental and psychological problems compounded is universally accepted, people ask how the brain function is affected and/or changed. Chemicals produced in the brain are responsible for the feeling of hunger, thirst, the feeling of achievement and pleasure. While our brain does release these chemicals naturally on an everyday basis, chemicals like alcohol, tobacco, heroin, etc aid in the excess release of these chemicals, incentivising repeating these behaviours for the sense of reward. After due time, the brain gets accustomed to the excess release and is unable to feel things with the natural process and amounts. Often feeling desolate and disconnected.
So as a diabetic or heart patient does not have control over the changes that come about their body once they do, people suffering from addiction often don’t either. That is not to say that can not be helped.