Quitting smoking is easy, I’ve done it hundreds of times – Mark Twain

Addiction is a compulsive behaviour, despite knowing the harm it causes. The addiction may be persistent because of the feeling of pleasure and/or value. This behaviour may involve a particular substance or activity. Substance addiction includes intake of any harmful substance like drugs, tobacco, alcohol etc. Addictive activities on other hand involve activities like sex, eating habits, shopping etc.

Any substance or activity in itself is never harmful until it starts impairing an individual’s physical, mental and emotional well-being since dependency symptoms are experienced. Dependency here, refers to intense urge or craving for an activity or substance. People with substance abuse disorder have distorted thinking, behaviour and body functions. Changes in the brain’s wiring is what causes people to have intense cravings for drugs making it hard for them to stop substance abuse. Brain imaging studies show changes in the areas of the brain that relate to judgment, decision making, learning, memory and behaviour control. These brain changes include alterations in cortical (pre-frontal cortex) and sub-cortical (limbic system) regions involving the neuro-circuitry of reward, motivation, memory, impulse control and judgment.

This addiction not only affects the person suffering from it but also others around. A perfect example of this would be that of a father/ a husband/ or a son who hold the family responsibility but end up spending huge amount of budget on the substance. These substances impair their relationship with their family members directly (abuse, violence) or indirectly (health, finance).

To a major of substance there are different withdrawal symptoms attached which are physical symptoms that occur when a person stops or cuts down on the use of the particular substance that has the ability to change the individual’s consciousness, mood and thinking. A very strange phenomenon about addiction is that if one has it then it seems like nothing, but if one starts to avoid it then its seems like something is missing. Each time it looks to be a futile action to intake as it results in no evolution. It is like a jump in the air and again one fall back at the same spot. So over a period of time, people with addictions develop tolerance, meaning they need a larger amount of the same substance or longer involvement in a particular activity to feel same pleasure.

One of the big wonders is that all the people suffering from addiction are very well aware that it is harmful to them. A pack of cigarettes come with a warning that it causes cancer. This is the only industry which market their flaws openly but still tobacco and alcohol together are second biggest industries in the world, nearly 70% of internet traffic is pornography. How this has happened should be known. According to many, people begin taking drugs for a variety of reasons, including: to feel good, to do better etc; but clearly this is not the case as existence is very versatile and there are lot many alternatives available to feel the same.

Addiction begins with the hope that something “out there” can instantly fill up the emptiness inside. This is the start. Not always it is the substance or activity which is addictive. There are still many people who use smart phones today, but smartphones are using rest of them. There are many people who enjoy alcohol but there is no clinging to it thereafter. There is always something else which might be getting fulfilled as well otherwise who likes to drink rotten grapes. The initial episode is the pointer of pleasure. The real pleasure may not be in the substance but is in the acceptance by the peer group. It may not be an addiction of a substance or activity totally, it may be addiction to get accepted, to be loved, to be known. Another reason is that today’s human mind is so occupied with tension, stress and anxiety all around that it has to use the substance to forget or just to get rid of all the anxieties. Certain genetic studies showed 50-60% of addiction results from genetics.


Primarily consult a counsellor to know whether a particular substance/activity is harmful to you or not, Lot many people are just conditioned with the fact that all and every intake of these substance is harmful but that may not be the case. This can be done by self-introspection as well.

Second step if substance is diagnosed harmful, is to identify the root cause of first intake of a particular substance. Many mental health professionals can help in this through cognitive and formal assessments and interviews. Based on this prognosis is formed.

Because addiction affects many aspects of a person’s life, multiple types of treatment are often required. For most, a combination of medication and individual or group therapy is most effective. Medications are used to control drug cravings and relieve severe symptoms of withdrawal. Therapy can help addicted individuals understand their behaviour and motivations, develop higher self-esteem, cope with stress and address other mental health problems. Treatment may also include:

Hospitalization . During inpatient rehab, patients reside in a substance-free facility and receive around-the-clock medical care and therapeutic support. Inpatient rehabs are the best option for individuals battling chronic addiction, as well as those who suffer from a co-occurring mental or behavioural disorder.

Therapeutic communities (highly controlled, drug-free environments) or sober houses Sober living homes operate as a bridge between an inpatient treatment center and the return to normal life. These are a great option for people in recovery who need additional time reinforcing what was learned in rehab.

Outpatient programs Patients can continue working and caring for their families while attending scheduled treatment sessions throughout the week.

Addiction is an involuntary process. It may not be fair to associate a person’s addictive behaviour with his moral standards or character. The brain response to an addict changes in such a way that he continues to live with the bad habits and addictions in spite of understanding its dangerous implications. Apart from therapy and medicines, the person requires a lot of love, affection, support, and motivation to get over with the addiction.

“ Recovery from addiction requires hard work, a proper attitude
and learning skills to stay sober, not drinking alcohol or using
other drugs. Successful drug recovery or alcohol recovery
involves changing attitudes, acquiring knowledge, and
developing skills to meet the many challenges of sobriety.
Dennis Daley

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