What is addiction?

Addiction is a growing problem in our area. Few people are aware of the dangers associated, not only with taking street drugs, but of prescription drugs. People today also seem unaware that excess drinking during the week or weekends can be perilous in itself. So what is addiction about really?

Addiction can be defined as any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person’s 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 behavior. A person can become addicted, dependent, or compulsively obsessed with anything. If you suspect this may be the case with yourself, or someone you care about, it may be time to seek help from an addiction treatment centre.

Addiction itself is the state of being given up to some habit or compulsion. It can be overwhelming in thought. So much so that it leads you to doing different actions. Not just drug taking. But avoiding certain family or friends. Missing school, work or class. Arguing in relationships so you have time to be alone and give time to your habit or compulsion, which includes the buying, storing, using, hiding and lying cycle as a part of your life that can all but take over. Withdrawal of some kind is usually part and parcel of addiction that comes with feeling painfully low, depressed and ill. Some make a distinction between physical addiction like chemicals and others psychological addictions such as gambling or sex addiction. However whether physical, psychological or otherwise they are arguably more often than not intertwined. The addictions encompass body, mind, soul, emotions as a mix of craving and dependence ingredients that progressively become more harmful as the thinking, feelings and behaviours continue.

Many people of all ages occasionally or regularly set out to get drunk or high, and when this is harmful to the substance user and others, it is termed substance abuse. The majority of those who abuse drugs on an experimental level do not progress to become addicts. Food and exercise can also be included in this category. Nevertheless, a few points are important in this regard: Firstly, this kind of intentional abuse causes at least as much damage to individuals of all ages, and to society at large, as that caused by addiction. Secondly, the longer one regularly uses potentially habit- forming drugs or behaviour, the more likely one is to progress to the point where one becomes dependent. Thirdly, anyone who regularly uses substances such as coke, crack, crystal meth, opiates (such as heroin) and benzodiazepines (e.g. sleeping pills and tranquillisers such as valium and ativan), is running a very high risk of becoming addicted. Fourthly, if you have a possible genetic predisposition to addiction, even regular use of a natural drug such as ‘weed’ (cannabis), food or exercise could very well become an addiction.


Drug addiction can be defined as a strong physiological and psychological dependence on a drug or other agent; see alcoholism and drug dependence. Drug addiction is normally characterised by a state of reliance on a drug. This is sometimes defined as physical dependence but usually also includes a passionate emotional dependence.

Drug addiction, is a condition characterized by an overwhelming desire to continue taking a drug to which one has become accustomed through repeated consumption because it produces a certain effect that changes the way we think and feel. Even feeling numb to depression, or forgetting about your problems, relationships and financial woes can be the catalyst that keeps the desire so strong. The need for pleasure as opposed to pain in our lives is a driving force that can run riot if left unchecked. Life however comes with a certain amount of pain. It takes some pain to exercise, to work, to build relationships and careers. It takes a certain amount of pain to keep a house, or your body, healthy and clean.

Addiction is usually accompanied by a compulsion to obtain the drug, or stay stuck within a compulsion, a tendency to increase the dosage and a desire to make an environment ready and free for usage. Drug addiction is a psychological, emotional and or physical dependence on a substance, or thing. This thing serves as a distraction from reality and a way to find pleasure. It is impulsive behaviour that is instant gratification centred. However, it is normally pain that is found that dominates after an ever elusive rush or high.

Common addictive drugs are barbiturates, alcohol, cocaine, morphine and other opioids and heroin. However an addiction can be almost anything that becomes an obsession or compulsion that has enough effect to remove you from a normally functioning and healthy life routine. It is in fact any compulsive and maladaptive dependence on a drug that produces adverse psychological, physical, financial, social, relational or legal ramifications. Addiction has also been defined as “a chronic, relapsing (reverting to again and again) brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works”. Any which way you look at it, it is progressive and therefore gets worse. You can treat it, but a cure as such comes about as an ongoing daily process.

Finally, the scary part is that addiction is something that happens when a person is ensnared or entrapped by whatever substance or object they have been using as an escape from reality. Their reality has become distorted and they are now locked within that new reality. So much so that their bodies and brains actually physically change. A person who has become addicted thinks irrationally as opposed to rationally. They are often mindless instead of mindful about what they do in their cycle of using. Their chemistry changes over time. They essentially think, feel and act like someone other than who they really are. When this happens the emotional impacts they were trying to avoid becomes much worse. This is compounded by their own value systems that have been changed by the addictive behaviours. The loss of the self to varying degrees follows and the chaos, confusion, disorder and unmanageability that surrounds this process can be catastrophic.

If you or someone you know may be addicted contact Pathways Plett Rehab Centre and we can help you with our addiction recovery treatment programme. info@pathwaysplettrehab.co.za

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