Addiction is the term used to describe instances where an individual does not have control over their actions, displaying the inability to stop using a substance or engaging in a behaviour that causes psychological or physical harm.

Although addiction comes in lots of different forms, it is typically associated with drugs, smoking, alcohol and gambling.

What causes addiction?

People become addicted to harmful substances such as nicotine, drugs and alcohol for a whole host of different reasons, but one of the most common causes of addiction is the way these substances make us feel, both mentally and physically.

Many drug addicts, for example, are constantly chasing the high and feelings of euphoria that drugs can induce. In turn, these feelings can then lead to overpowering urges to use a particular substance again.

Factors such as peer pressure, stress and anxiety, early exposure to drugs, childhood trauma or loss, can all lead to a person developing an addiction, especially if they rely on substances as a form of escapism.

What are the types of addiction?

There are two main types of addiction, substance addictions and non-substance addictions.

Substance addiction

Substance addictions include both medications and non-medical drugs, including:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Prescription and non-prescription opioids
  • Prescription and non-prescription stimulants
  • Tobacco/nicotine
  • PCP and LSD
  • Sleeping pills, benzodiazepines and barbiturates
  • Inhalants, such as paint thinners, aerosol sprays, gases and nitrites.

All of the above substances are highly addictive if they are misused as they can activate the reward centre of your brain that produces feelings of pleasure.

Non-substance addiction

Non-substance addictions (also known as behavioural addictions) can occur when an activity stimulates the brain’s reward system, creating the feelings of pleasure that addicts chase.

Any activity that consumes your life and prevents you from functioning day-to-day could be considered a non-substance addiction, particularly if it is having an impact on your finances, health, social life and mental wellbeing.

There are  many activities which can quickly become addictive,  but some of the most common include:

  • Gambling
  • Exercising
  • Dieting
  • Shopping
  • Eating
  • Shoplifting
  • Having sex
  • Viewing pornography
  • Video gaming
  • Using the internet.

What are the signs of addiction?

It isn’t always obvious if someone has an addiction. However, there are several signs that might suggest addictive behaviours, including:

  • An inability to stop a habit or activity
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Displaying destructive behaviours
  • Telling lies to family and friends
  • Becoming increasingly secretive
  • Becoming preoccupied with the substance or activity
  • Displaying a lack of control over behaviours
  • A decline in physical and mental health
  • Emotional and physical withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological symptoms of addictions can include:

  • Mood swings
  • Increased temper
  • Inability to focus or concentrate
  • Poor judgement
  • Tiredness
  • Paranoia
  • Defensiveness
  • Agitation.

Knowing these signs can help to identify whether or not a loved one may be facing an addiction that is slowly destroying their life. If suspect that a loved one is exhibiting signs of addiction, it’s important to encourage them to seek help as quickly as possible, so that they can embark on a positive road to recovery.

Where can you get help for addiction?

At ANA Treatment Centres, we work closely with our clients to help rebuild their lives, gain confidence and self-worth and believe that they can live a healthy, responsible, and productive life, free of addictive substances.

Contact ANA today, our friendly team is on hand and ready to help.