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Everything You Need To Know About Addiction

Graphic showing stats of Americans addicted to drugs and alcohol

Addiction involves an intense craving for a substance like drugs or alcohol, a lack of control over its usage, and continued involvement despite adverse effects. Addiction alters the brain by changing how it processes pleasure and distorts other basic impulses like learning and motivation.

Addictions are dangerous for addicts and cause pain and suffering for their families. Addiction symptoms include financial troubles, absenteeism, and health problems. Although overcoming an addiction is difficult, it is possible.

What is a Definition of Addiction?

Addiction is the inability to quit using drugs or alcohol or engaging in an activity despite its adverse physical and psychological effects. Addiction does not relate exclusively to drug dependence like heroin or cocaine. Some addictions are characterized by an inability to quit engaging in activities such as gambling, eating, or working.

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is “a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions between brain circuits, heredity, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. Those with addiction use substances or participate in activities that become compulsive and are often continued despite adverse consequences.”

In general, prevention and treatment approaches for addiction are equally effective as those for other chronic disorders.

How Common is Addiction?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over 12 million people in America aged 12 or older have used an illegal drug during the past 30 days.

The numbers are considerably higher when it comes to alcohol consumption. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about 87 percent of U.S. adults have consumed alcohol at some point in their lives, with more than half claiming to have done so within the last month. 

Over 16 million adults and over 700,000 teenagers in the United States fulfill alcohol use disorder (AUD) criteria.

Both in human and financial terms, the consequences of addiction are astounding. Every single year in America:

  • Addiction costs American society $484 billion. This is more than cancer and diabetes combined.
  • approximately 570,000 people die because of drug use
  • 440,000 people pass away because of tobacco-related illnesses
  • Alcohol kills 85,000
  • About 100 US citizens die every day because of fatal drug overdoses

Stages of Addiction

There are multiple stages of addiction. Although a person usually develops an addiction by going through the following stages in order, it is possible to skip around the list.


Experimentation is the first step. A person may wish to test a substance out of simple curiosity. Some people move on quickly through the experimental stage. They try a drug, decide they don’t like it, and never use it again. Alternatively, with some drugs, a person might develop an addiction immediately. It is possible to create a dependency after a single usage.

Recreational Use

After experimenting, some people may find that they love the feeling and opt to continue using “for pleasure” occasionally. For instance, Tom may take cocaine once and then take it routinely on the weekends while out with friends. After the weekend, Tom resumes his daily routine.


Repeated recreational usage can lead to dependence. At this point, a person begins to lose control and is reluctant to stop. Continuing with the previous example, Tom may discover that he enjoys using cocaine on the weekends and use it on his own or more frequently than before. Dependence is typically accompanied by tolerance and, eventually, excessive drug usage.


After a person develops a dependency, they are prone to developing an addiction. Despite their reluctance, they may attempt to quit but find that they have lost control of their brain and body. The person may have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms, which leads to relapse.


Addiction is a chronic disease that is also marked by relapse. While relapse is not necessarily inevitable, if it does occur, it should be recognized as a fully treatable stage of the disease.

Types of Addiction and Their Effects

The most common types of addiction disorder include:


Alcoholism might be more challenging to recognize than other substance use disorders (SUDs). Alcohol is legal for people over 21, and binge drinking is acceptable in many social settings and groups. Although it is possible to use and enjoy alcohol responsibly, addiction may have severe effects.

Significant evidence links heavy alcohol consumption to cognitive impairment and health problems like liver disease. Abuse of this substance can also result in potentially fatal alcohol poisoning.

Drug Addiction

Drugs are usually one of the first things that come to mind when discussing addiction. People can get addicted to a wide variety of drugs, and it can be difficult to stop the cycle of addiction. Substances such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine can easily result in dependency. Drug abusers display obsessive drug-seeking behavior and struggle to maintain a healthy balance between their addiction and the rest of their lives.

Drug addiction can result in health issues, difficulties at school or job, financial struggles, and deteriorating relationships with friends, family, and coworkers. Despite the stigma surrounding drug addiction, it’s essential to understand that many contributing factors exist. A mix of genetic, environmental, and developmental factors can contribute to the onset of addiction.

Gambling Addiction

Behavioral addictions, such as gambling, also mark financial troubles. Similar to other addictions, compulsive gambling is motivated by the feelings of reward you obtain from placing bets. Regardless of your many defeats, the compulsion forces you to continue. Gambling addicts can deplete their savings, destroy relationships, and steal to support their addictive behavior.

Similar to other addictions, tolerance can develop over time. You may need to place larger bets more often to obtain the same level of excitement. Some addicts may focus on one game, such as online poker, while others may find several options appealing, including casino table games, slots, and online betting forums.

Sex Addiction

Sex is a good component of many people’s lives, but it can develop into a behavioral addiction. This addiction is characterized by sexual compulsivity. For some, this means excessive masturbation or consumption of pornographic content. For others, sexual addiction involves engaging in sexual behavior with partners. Regardless of how the addiction manifests itself, it generally costs your relationships and health.

Internet Addiction

The Internet is a very omnipresent tool. We use it for school, work, and entertainment. With smartphones, tablets, and P.C.s, the Internet is virtually always accessible with a tap or click. In several ways, this has made life simpler.

On the other hand, the Internet has its downfalls. Many people spend hours idly browsing through their social media accounts. Although internet addiction is not formally recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, research indicates it is a prevalent issue. Addiction to video gaming and online gambling also falls under the class of internet addiction.

Shopping Addiction

If you are feeling down, you go out and buy something new. This is a relatively safe outlet for negative emotions if done occasionally. But shopping, like any behavior, may develop into an addiction. About 18 million Americans have a shopping addiction. The majority of the adverse effects of shopping addiction are financial.

Some people with a shopping addiction may bend or break their budgets to support this habit. They continue to purchase despite not wanting or needing additional stuff. This may lead to reaching credit card limits and opening new accounts. As the financial load increases, a shopping addict may experience deteriorating relationships, especially if they share finances with a partner or spouse.

Food Addiction

Food addiction can have grave health and psychological effects. A person struggling with food addiction may also suffer from obesity, chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. This dependency may be a coping mechanism for uncomfortable emotions, such as stress. Food, particularly those heavy in fat, sugar, and salt can activate the brain’s reward system. You may find yourself eating when you are not hungry.

Picture showing addiction stats in the United States

Causes of Addiction

Understanding addiction is difficult due to various biological and psychological factors involved. Addiction changes the reward circuits and areas of the brain responsible for self-control. In addition to genetics, environment, and mental health, several other elements impact addiction.


While there are studies on “addiction genes,” other genes regulate impulsivity and inhibition that can affect dependency. For example, it has been noted that alcoholism is 40-60 percent dictated by a person’s DNA. Similarly, a person’s likelihood of developing a drug addiction increases by around 50 percent if they have a direct relative with the same issue.

Environmental Factors

The social environment also impacts the behaviors of people. Peer pressure is a powerful thing. Living in a stressful atmosphere might motivate people to seek a way out of their daily circumstances. Or they seek ways to improve their image.

For example, college students may begin using amphetamines to increase their academic performance. Some individuals may be bored with their life and want a “new high.”

Mental Health

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, there is a definite link between substance abuse and mental illness. It appears that one condition causes the other.

Those with underlying mental health issues, such as PTSD or a personality disorder, are prone to anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Not only may addiction increase problems but also exacerbate the mental illness itself.

Certain mental diseases, such as manic-depressive illness or schizophrenia, have genetic factors that make it easy to develop an addiction.

Symptoms of Addiction

The signs and symptoms of each type of addiction differ; however, the following are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Legal and financial problems
  • Using increasingly more significant amounts of a substance
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  • Losing interest in once-cherished activities
  • Feeling preoccupied with the substance or behavior
  • Consuming more of the substance than intended
  • Secrecy
  • Changes in mood, sleep, and appetite
  • Putting the substance or behavior ahead of responsibilities
  • Engaging in dangerous behaviors
  • Continued usage despite negative consequences
  • Denial

Diagnosis of Addiction

Typically, diagnosing addiction includes recognizing that you have a problem and seeking professional help. Substance abuse is not usually indicative of addiction, although drug use carries many health and social risks in addition to the risk of addiction.

When a person recognizes that they have a problem and need help, the next step is to get a medical evaluation. This includes questioning regarding behaviors or substance use, an examination to assess general health, and the drafting of an addiction-specific treatment plan.

The precise diagnosis of an individual’s addiction will depend on their dependency. Addictive substances that are commonly misused are:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Tobacco
  • Steroids
  • Opioids
  • Inhalants
  • Methamphetamine
  • Cocaine
  • Prescription medications
  • Hallucinogens

Because certain substances have the potential to induce dangerous withdrawal symptoms, it is crucial to have an accurate diagnosis to receive the most effective treatment.

Treatment of Addiction

Many practical treatment approaches can be used to deal with addiction. There isn’t a recovery program that is “one-size-fits-all.” Every patient needs an individualized treatment plan.

Many begin by signing up for a 12-step group like Cocaine Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Alcoholics Anonymous. Others seek outpatient treatment centers for individual and group therapy. But when treating addiction, a residential recovery facility is thought to be the best option. A standard addiction treatment program at residential rehab lasts about four to six weeks.

Medical Evaluation

Upon entering a treatment program at The Haven, a patient’s present condition of mental and physical health is evaluated. Before admission, a patient is checked for any underlying mental health disorders, physical health issues, and potential damage resulting from their addiction.


Every patient entering addiction treatment will initially undergo detox. Not only does it apply to drug addiction but also behavioral addictions. This means completely stopping their substance usage and addictive activities and going through a withdrawal period.

Going “cold turkey” with some drugs and alcohol is dangerous. Detoxification in this situation must be done gradually or with the aid of a substitute. As withdrawal symptoms might be harmful, it is always recommended to undergo detoxification under medical supervision.

At the Haven, our trained professionals assess each patient’s unique needs and treat them accordingly. We use medications to ease withdrawal symptoms and ensure the most comfortable and secure detox process possible.


Detox alone is insufficient to recover from an addiction fully. Therapy is the most crucial step, but it will not be as effective until the individual has completed drug or behavior detoxification. Behavioral therapies, such as CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy), are commonly used to treat addiction.

Additionally, complementary and alternative therapies are used. Art therapy, relaxation therapy, and equine-assisted psychotherapy are common types. Many patients find complementary treatments to be not only practical but also enjoyable.


Continuing care is essential for ensuring a long-lasting recovery. A proper treatment plan should have an aftercare component. Even after detoxification and therapy, relapse is still possible. Aftercare decreases this risk.

A patient is encouraged to continue therapy after complete treatment as part of ongoing care. After leaving a rehab program, patients are recommended to attend 12-step meetings.

Those who complete detox and residential programs at Haven Detox will be on their way to successful recovery.

Image showing names of specific types of addiction

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the simple definition of addiction?

An addiction is a craving for something challenging to manage or cease. If you use cigarettes, alcohol, or substances like marijuana (weed), cocaine, and heroin, you might get addicted to them. They are extremely dangerous and might prove fatal.

What is an example of an addiction?

Examples of substance addiction include alcoholism, cocaine addiction, meth addiction, heroin addiction, tobacco addiction, and addiction to many other illegal and prescription drugs. Behavioral addiction includes internet addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, food addiction, exercise addiction, and many others.

What are the types of addiction?

Specific types of addiction include:
Drug addiction
Sex addiction
Video games addiction
Internet addiction
Shopping addiction
Gambling addiction
Food addiction

Start Your Recovery Process Today with The Haven

Many addicts fear the term addiction and view it as a sign of failure or worthlessness. People with addictions often experience shame and hesitancy to get help due to the stigma associated with their behavior. 

At The Haven Detox, we use a variety of approaches during detox, including medication-assisted detox and other therapeutic modalities. A mix of evidence-based therapies is utilized during a residential treatment program to begin addressing underlying issues.

We prioritize your recovery by tailoring a treatment plan to your needs. Our medical professionals provide comprehensive addiction treatment programs that use therapy and medication to assist you in managing your addiction.

If you recognize that you need help, you have taken an essential first step toward recovery. Contact us at (561) 328-8627 today!

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