September 23, 2020

Jem Fundano

Addiction: What is it?

Addiction is a broad term that involves an individual who is struggling to stop taking substances or doing a specific behavior. The person who's addicted struggles with the compulsions, urges, and the harmful consequences it causes.

Different Types of Addiction

Addiction is usually identified as a Substance Use Disorder. However, addiction isn't only limited to substances, but it also encompasses compulsive behavior. The following are the different types and definitions of addiction:

Substance Use Disorder

A mental health issue that deals with the excessive use of addictive substances. It affects the individual's psychological and physical well-being. The excessive use of substances leads to withdrawal when intake is stopped. It can also lead to physical harm because it affects a person's bodily responses.

Related Article: Substance Use Disorder: What is it?

Behavioral Addiction

Addiction to activities can be a psychological issue. Engaging excessively in activities develop into addictive behavior. Excessive shopping, sex, gambling, working, surfing the internet, or exercising are common addictive behaviors. When excessive behavior affects the person's quality of life, it can be considered as an addiction.

Is Addiction Common?

Addiction is one of the common mental health issues in the world.

In the 2019 World Drug Report, around 35 million people are identified and suffering from Substance Use Disorder. Almost 5% of the global population suffers from shopping addiction, and 5% of the American population suffers from sex addiction.

Various worldwide health organizations state that those who struggle with substance use are most likely to suffer from another form of addiction.

Although addiction is a common mental health issue, out of 7 people, only 1 person engages in treatment.

Based on sexual orientation, men are most likely to develop substance use disorder, sex, or gambling addiction, while women are most likely to develop shopping or exercising addiction.

What are the Signs of Addiction?

Signs or symptoms vary depending on the severity and type of addiction. Mental health professionals use a clinical dictionary called the DSM to specify the type of addiction the person struggles with. Here are common signs of addiction:

  • Compulsive actions or intake of a substance happens
  • Using substances or engaging in behavior excessively even if it's harmful to the person
  • Substances or activities which you find pleasurable or enjoyable are now seen as stressful or a conflict of interest
  • The desire to use more of the substance or activity is present
  • You experience painful physical or psychological symptoms if you stop doing the activity or taking the substance.

When you're experiencing symptoms like these, it's important to consult a mental health professional so you can be examined.

What are the Harmful Effects of Addiction?

Addiction is a common mental disorder that affects the addicted and the person around them.

For substance users, harmful effects may be losing their loved ones' trust, hurting others, or death. It's common for individuals suffering from substance use to get into accidents, lose a lot of money, go to prison, become jobless, or go homeless. Withdrawing from the substance can cause heart attack, stroke, or psychosis.

Behavioral addiction also has harmful effects. Gambling and shopping addiction can result in bankruptcy, debt, or feelings of helplessness. Sex addiction can affect relationships, and the urges can cause you to harass others which may put you to jail.

When addiction is left untreated, it can affect you and those around you. It's best to manage your intake of the substance or your behavior before it consumes your life.

What to do if you suspect you have an addiction?

Addiction is treatable. If you suspect you have one, here are suggestions you could do:

  • Consult a professional. Just like physical illnesses, addiction is a mental illness. Self-diagnosing can worsen your mental health issue. Going to a licensed health professional can help you understand what you're specifically suffering from.
  • Go to therapy. Therapy is an investment for your health. Find a therapist who can help you with your recovery. Take active steps by engaging with your therapist.
  • Engage in support or recovery groups. Recovery groups exist to support you. They hold you accountable for your sobriety or your commitments, and they are a safe place. When you meet other people facing the same challenges you're experiencing, you get to see that you're not alone.
  • Enter rehabilitation programs. There are rehabilitation facilities near you where you can be admitted as an inpatient or outpatient. Rehabilitation programs have structures involving group therapy, counseling, medical treatment, and other helpful therapeutic services.
  • Get medical treatment. The first stage for treatment, especially for a substance user, is medical treatment. Doctors and nurses help you as you undergo the withdrawal process. It's vital to be given the right medication so your body can adjust to a substance-free environment.
  • Call emergency hotlines. A 'bad trip' or a harmful effect of a substance you're using can stir up negative emotions. When you feel suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also call 911 if you think you're suffering from an overdose. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration also provides online resources and hotlines where you can get treatment or support.

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