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The Concept of Addiction Explained

Addiction is something that a lot of people suffer from and there are addictions to a lot of different things. However one thing that needs to be understood is that there are two different types of addiction and they are very different. An addiction to a substance like drugs is not the same as an addiction to something like gambling which is more of a behavioural addiction. Because of these differences it is also necessary to treat the addictions differently.

The concept of addiction has changed over the years and now includes a lot of things that didn't used to be considered as addiction. Historically an addiction was defined as a dependence on a psychoactive substance. This could include things like drugs, alcohol or tobacco. The psychoactive substance would alter the brain chemistry and cause the addiction. However over the years the definition of addiction has grown to include behavioral addictions like gambling. These are compulsions that people have that are not related to a psychoactive substance. The result is that the number of people with an addiction has greatly increased.

Addictions to psychoactive substances are the result of the way that they substance affects the chemistry of the brain. Usually what happens is that the substance in the drug is similar to a chemical that your brain would produce naturally. Since you are now getting that chemical from an outside source your brain no longer needs to produce it. The result is that you become dependent on the psychoactive substance and you start to crave it. Once this happens it is very difficult to get over the addiction and the longer that you remain addicted the harder it will be to treat it since it will be harder to get your brain to start producing the chemical again.

Behavioral addictions are harder to explain and as of yet nobody has really come up with a good theory. What we do know is that some people have a strong compulsion to do things that they know are bad for them. Clearly there is something in their brain that is causing this but it is far from clear what that is. However given the number of people who suffer from behavioral addictions it is pretty clear that there is a physiological cause.

Regardless of what you are addicted to it is important that you be able to get the proper treatment. One of the challenges is that over the years similar treatments have been tried for all addictions. Clearly this does not work since a behavioral addiction is different than an addiction to a psychoactive substance. In recent years there has been a recognition of this and we have started to see new forms of treatment develop. One thing that we can say for certain is that the earlier you seek treatment the better your chances of success will be.