What are Addictions?
Addictions are unremitting and persistent behaviours that we have no control over. Many people assume that addictions only include physical things such as consuming alcohol or even taking drugs but this is not the case. Normally there are two types of addiction which include substance dependence and behavioural addiction.
Substance Dependence: This refers to someone who has a compulsive need to take substances such as drugs or alcohol in order for them to function normally. This type of addiction is the most documented and is the most commonly associated with the word addiction.
Behavioural Addiction: Behavioural addiction or process addiction as it is increasing referred to, includes a compulsion for a person to continually engage in a process. This type of addiction is just as serious as substance dependence as it can progress to an individual developing mental, physical, social and financial problems.
The antiquated view of an addiction was quite narrow-minded and was only really associated with substance abuse that temporally altered the chemical balance of the brain. However as our understanding of the human psyche has evolved our shaping and understanding of what constitutes an addiction has took on a wider spectrum.
Below are the top 10 most common addictions:
Everybody enjoys a drink on a Friday or Saturday night (maybe both) but when this social activity takes a sinister turn and becomes a compulsive need it can lead to multiple problems for the individual including physical, mental and financial consequences.
When a person drinks alcohol it changes the way in which the brain functions. The levels of dopamine are increased and as a result the person experiences pleasure. Alcohol dependence is a ominous addiction as it is something that happens over a period of time. As the individual drinks more and more excessively over time their brain chemistry is altered in such a way that they crave for alcohol.
When a person smokes they are not actually addicted to the cigarettes themselves but to one of 4000+ chemicals that are inhaled into the body after inhaling on one of these little white sticks. The addictive chemical responsible for countless addictions across our small blue planet is called nicotine.
When an individual smokes they ingest around 1 to 2 mg of nicotine. This may not sound like a lot but just like alcohol nicotine targets the brain and triggers a release of adrenaline. Again the neurotransmitter dopamine in the brain is significantly increased which provides the smoker with a feeling of pleasure, but here comes the kicker…this feeling doesn’t have longevity and soon this ‘high’ feeling from smoking dissipates requiring the person to light up another cigarette to experience this sensation again.
There is light at the end of the tunnel however – up until recent times the preferred way to quit smoking was to use NTR (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) such as nicotine patches and nicotine gum but since we entered the new millennium electronic cigarettes have taken centre stage. Electronic Cigarettes allow the user to mimic the actions of a smoker however using an e cig you are not inhaling the 4000+ chemicals that are contained within a normal cigarette. Using e liquid these devices allow the user to safely reduce their nicotine intake over time until the dependence is finally broken.
Electronic cigarettes are not only a healthier to our bodies but also to our wallets. Cheap and discount e liquid can be found online helping a vaper (someone who using electronic cigarettes) save money.
Drug addiction is widely misunderstood and it is a common misconception that drug abusers lack moral principals or willpower to get on the straight and narrow. Like all other addictions drugs lull the user into a false security and then without them even being consciously aware of what’s happened they develop a dependence on them.
Most people start off by taking drugs by choice but this choice soon becomes a requirement and the chronic, relapsing brain disease means the user is actively seeking and abusing drugs. By imitating the way in which the brain naturally sends chemical messages they often over stimulate the “pleasure centre” of the brain into releasing highly unnatural amounts of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and in the process this creates a euphoric experience. Much like how we train animals by rewarding good behaviour with treats the rewarding pattern of taking drugs to feel pleasure means that the user becomes addicted.
We all like to have a little gamble from time to time, whether it be in the comfort of our own home playing poker with a group of friends or going to a casino to play on the slot machines, gambling can be a enjoyable experience.
For some people the urge to gamble is too strong and they end up financially crippling themselves. There are two main reasons why people gamble which include:
- The excitement and thrill of betting and the chance to increase ones personal fortune with a few rolls of a dice or pulls of a handle. They also are competitive and get a rush when they beat an opponent.
- Other use gambling as a way of escaping reality. The people want to numb out there problems as opposed to actually getting a high from playing.
If you suspect that you or a friend is starting to tip into the world of gambling addiction there are a few signs that you can look out for to confirm your suspicions.
- Keeping your gambling a secret
- Being deceitful about how much you gamble and how much you spend gambling
- Borrowing or even stealing to pay for your gambling habits
- Missing work to go to a casino or place of gambling
- Being away from friends and family often to go out gambling
Unlike most addcitions we actually need food to survive. We all like the odd cheeky snack every now and again however some people are not able to enjoy food like the rest of us and end up having periods where they binge. You may be interested to know that because someone has a food addiction it does not necessarily mean that they will be overweight. They can be of normal weight, overweight or even surprisingly underweight.
People who suffer from this addiction are just like any other person with an addiction – they take the food to make themselves feel better. We all enjoy a nice take away but food addicts take it to the next level and actually use the pleasure of eating to repress any negative emotions that they are experiencing.
To spot someone who suffers from a food addiction look out for the tell tale signs:
- Eating when they don’t feel hungry (have just eaten)
- They eat differently in front of people then they do on their own
- Eat a large quantity of food and then pop of to the toilet to throw it up
Video games have the unique ability to allow us to become someone else whether it be a footballer, rally car driver, army soldier or even a wizard allowing us to escape to another digital fantasy world where we can play out our most wildness of fantasies. However there are those people who play video games so much that they find it hard to tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
Research has shown that a higher percentage of men compared to women are more likely to get effected by this. The study took on both genders and analysed the ‘reward part’ of the brain that gets stimulated during game play. This area in men was significantly more active in men then in women with both genders wanting to win but men more motivated to do so.
Video game addiction can be spotted by the following signs:
- Spending hours upon hours playing video games
- Calling in sick at work to play video games
- Player experiencing headaches, backaches and dry or painful eyes.
- Staying up all night and day playing video games neglecting sleep in the process.
The internet has integrated itself into our everyday lives. We use it for work, pleasure and research purposes but there are those people that depend on the internet and use it excessively as part of their daily lives.
It is not only teens who are affected by this addiction but also middle ages individuals who have flown the nest so to speak and have found themselves alone at their new place of residence. The internet opens up a whole new world where they can meet new people and chat to them using programs and websites such as Skype and Facebook.
The following signs that someone is addicted to the World Wide Web include:
- Feeling depressed or anxious when there is no access to the internet.
- Being socially secluded from physical friends and family.
- Excessive use on locked away in a room using the internet.
As we all know exercise is great for the body, soul and the mind but just like anything else it is not a protected realm that is exempt from the world of addiction. When an individual trains for a set period of time and see significant amounts of improvements this fuels their confidence and starts to train the brain into thinking that there is a correlation between working out and feeling good about oneself.
There are many signs of someone who has become addicted to exercise:
- Individual will neglect friends and family to train
- Feeling of depression and guilt at not being able to exercise
- Exercising even though the individual is ill or has an injury.
People who suffer from this type of addiction are always looking to push themselves that little bit more. Although in a person who exercises normally this is usually quite safe, the “more the better” attitude that is often seen with addicts can cause serious harm physically and even have mental repercussions as they push themselves to unsafe limits.
Shopping is one of the UKs favourite pastimes. We all like to update our wardrobe from time to time, but for some people this usually enjoyable activity can lead down a path of financial destruction.
People with this addiction are often known as ‘shopaholics’ and find themselves spending money that they normally don’t have or cannot afford to part with. Some people believe that this addiction doesn’t really exist and that it is an excuse to cover a nation’s greed, however others say that there are people who are more susceptible to advertising that is constantly bombarding us with subliminal messages and calls to action which these people find hard to ignore. There are also those people who purchase luxury expensive goods to acquire a sort of high social status and feel these items will prove to other people that they are doing well for themselves in life when in fact a lot of them are in heavy debt.
Ways to spot a shopping addict involve:
- Get highly emotional and unstable at not being able to purchase something new
- Give false information to get credit
- Their checks bounce on a regular basis
- Keep purchases secret
- Go shopping necessities and come back with bas full of luxury items
Work addition I hear you saying? Never!!! However there are people out there who are addicted to their work. We are all taught the importance of having a good work ethic from a young age and it is true that hard work is the key to progressing in life, well unless you are one of those lucky people to win the lottery, but some people take it that little too far. I am sure you have heard the famous saying “work hard, play harder”, it is important to rest the body and involve yourself in enjoyable activities to escape work life.
Unlike other addictions that are frowned upon this addiction is actually respectable. The addition can lead individuals to destroying relationships, discontinuing outside interests and even be a serious hazard to their health. They will miss their young child’s school play or football game and avoid going on holiday for fear of being away from the office.
There are 4 main types of Workaholics:
These people believe that a job must be done properly or there is no point in doing it at all. They find it hard to initiate work projects and then work 24/7 round the clock to complete them by the set deadline.
This type of workaholic bites off more than they can chew. They will take on a high work load that can’t possibly be done in the allotted timeframe. These people often produce very rushed work that has many errors due to there being no time to go back through what they have produced to give it a once over for any mistakes.
Attention Deficit Workaholic
These people lose interest very quickly and are happy to jump from project to project. This means they usually never finish anything they start.
These people are perfectionists who do not like letting go of any of their projects. Because of this they do not work well with other people and are constantly missing deadlines due to their perfectionist nature.
As you can see from above addictions come in all shapes and sizes. While many may be harder to spot than others it does not mean that they are less of a problem. Addictions due to their nature are hard to beat, however with the right support and information they can be beaten. For more information and support please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/Addictions/Pages/Introduction.aspx
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