Addiction and Its Types
Mr. Vivyn Mathew
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism”. - Carl Jung
Images of intoxicated persons come rushing into our minds when we think of addiction. Almost every one knows someone who lost their lives due to being addicted to various substances. The term 'addiction' is widely used by all sections of society because addictive behaviors are one among the biggest problems of mankind. But common usage of this term has given rise to many questions and arguments. How big are addiction problems exactly? How does addiction differ from bad habits? Is addiction and dependence on substance synonymous? What causes addiction?
Global estimates on substance abuse shows that the scourges of these debilitating conditions are felt across the world. A global survey in 2014 showed 4.9% of the world's adult population (240 million people) suffer from alcohol use disorder (7.8% of men and 1.5% of women), 22.5% of adults in the world (1 billion people) smoke tobacco products (32.0% of men and 7.0% of women). It is estimated that 11% of deaths in males and 6% of deaths in females each year are due to tobacco. illegal psychoactive drugs like cannabis is the most prevalent at 3.5% globally, (15 million people) inject drugs. These estimates are only the tips of the metaphorical iceberg because the addictions on substances are only a minor fraction when compared with the immeasurable psychological or behavioral addictions worldwide. It means the addictions like problem gambling, internet addictions and addiction to televisions are rampant globally and may be prevalent in every household which makes it difficult to measure.
Addiction is both psychological and behavioral. Addictions are marked by craving, compulsion, and inability to stop harmful use of substances and lifestyle dysfunction. Addiction commonly understood in many ways. Some consider it in respect to appetites, desires and preferences that have got out of hand to become excessive unmindful obsession for distraction from facing the realities of life. Other opinions includes addiction as attempts to get away from distress, running away due to fears and insecurities, being liberated from fear and pain limitations, obsessive bonding with substances and activities for some sense of relief due to an inability to beat the present life and some consider addiction as the loss of purpose and connection.
But addiction is overly acknowledged with drugs that have an effect on the Central Nervous System. Addiction is compulsive engagement on rewarding stimuli. Brains reward seeking pathway is involved primarily. Dopamine from the Ventral Tegmental Area projecting to higher region called Nucleus Accumbens activates for more rewarding experiences resulting in addictive behaviors. It is to be noted that some behavioral addictions can be placed equal footing with drug addictions. This may point to the fact “excessive appetites” are powerful than “drug dependencies”.
Definition of Addiction
“What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood”. - Alice Miller
In order to gain clarity and understanding there is a need to define the word addiction. For our purposes we define addiction as follows:
American Psychological Association (APA) defines Addiction as the repeated involvement with a substance or activity, despite the substantial harm it now causes, because that involvement was (and may continue to be) pleasurable and/or valuable.
This definition highlights four main attributes to addiction. They being,
1. Addiction includes both substances and activities (such as sex and gambling): persons may become addicted to both substances and activities. Substance addiction includes any substances that are taken into the body. This may include drugs, tobacco and unauthorized use of prescription medications. The activity addiction may include activities such as gambling, sex, the internet, pornography, and shopping etc. Sometimes people call these "process addictions."
2. Addiction leads to substantial harm: Addiction harms not only the person with the addiction but also everyone around them. The difference between "bad behavior" and addiction lies in the occurrence of substantial harm to the addicted person or others, "substantial harm" means harmful consequences like declining health, damage to interpersonal relationships, and diminishing financial resources. The less-obvious, indirect loss from the addiction is that it consumes all their time, energy, and preoccupies their thoughts.
3. Addiction is repeated involvement despite substantial harm:A behavior cannot be called as an addiction unless it happened regularly and repeatedly.
4. Addiction continues because it was, or is, pleasurable and/or valuable: It is shocking to know that most people initiated their involvement addiction agents like drugs because; at first it was pleasurable, or at least valuable. It was considered "valuable" because it reduced anxiety., it provided a temporary escape from bad situation or boredom. This initial pleasurable and valuable initial involvement later on becomes a rewarding experience that they cling to be addicted.
A behavior can be called addicted if it is engaged in at an abnormally high frequency or volume. The behavior will be dominated by preoccupation with the object or the activity or the means of acquiring it, or experiences of distress when the activity is stopped or prevented. The experience of the behavior becomes out of one’s control, unsuccessful attempts. Mood changes become visible according to the changes in the engagement with addictive agent. The behavior brings conflict with the family members due to occurrence of lying, stealing or criticism by family. The behavior causes harm in other lifeareas such as finances, education or work, physical or mental health.
Causes of addiction:
“Addiction begins with the hope that something "out there" can instantly fill up the emptiness inside”. - Jean Kilbourne
Many factors influence the development of an addiction yet we don’t know how these various influences combine to form an addiction. These factors fall in the areas of Biological, Psychological, Socio- cultural and Spiritual influences
According to the biological model, a person’s distinctive physiology and genetics causes addiction. Genetic vulnerability in the form of genetic loading from heredity aids I the development of addiction. The degree to which they like or dislike a particular addictive substance or activity is assumed to come from these genetic factors. Some people may enjoy a substance or activity so much that it becomes very tempting and difficult to resist.
The disease model highlights that addiction (especially substance) is a complex irreversible illness, characterized by altered brain structure and functioning. These changes in the function of the brain can cause addictive behaviourscharacterized by compulsive, at times uncontrollable drug craving that persist(s) even in the face of extremely negative consequences. For many people drug addiction becomes chronic, with relapses possible even after long periods of abstinence.
Psychological factors are believed to play an important influence in developing addiction. Behaviors that control people's functioning and decrease life satisfaction are often called maladaptive behavior such as Addiction. The study of factors that contributes to the emergence of maladaptive thinking and behavioral patterns can explain the reason for such addictions. Some of the possible psychological causes of addiction can be due to abnormality, or "psychopathology" that presents itself as mental illness. Secondly, thoughts and beliefs create their different emotional response and feelings determine their behavior. If thoughts, beliefs and feelings are unrealistic or dysfunctional, their behavior and developing personality can make a person psychologically vulnerable to addiction. Third, the unhealthy behavior learned in response to their environment causes faulty coping and behavioral patterns.
According to the sociocultural model, the cultural standards of a society and the negative effects of culture and society cause addiction. The larger social systems that surround an individual may make a person vulnerable. An individual within any given system participates in the maintenance of that balance in the system or society. However, if the natural balance (status quo) of a system is dysfunctional, then the system serves to maintain that dysfunction. Some dysfunctional systems can promote and foster addictive behavior for some individuals in that system.
The Spiritual models suppose addiction occurs because of a separation from God. Moral causation of addiction points to the fact that there is a "correct" morality based on a particular set of values. Deviation from those values results in addiction.
Types of addiction
“An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate.” - Criss Jami
List of Substances that cause addiction:
Opioids (like heroin)
Prescription drugs (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers)
Amphetamines (like methamphetamine, known as meth)
Phencyclidine (known as PCP or Angeldust)
Other unspecified substances
List of Impulse Control Disorders
Lists of disorders where impulses cannot be resisted, which could be considered a type of addiction. The following is a list of the recognized impulse control disorders:
Intermittent explosive disorder (compulsive aggressive and assaultive acts)
Kleptomania (compulsive stealing)
Pyromania (compulsive setting of fires)
List of Behavioral Addictions
It has been suggested one of the types of addictions is behavioral addiction. The following is a list of behaviors that have been noted to be addictive
Pornography (attaining, viewing)
Using computers / the internet
Playing video games
Spiritual obsession (as opposed to religious devotion)
An outlook into addictive behaviours opens up a vast area of needs beginning from an individual to community at large. The reach and magnitude of Addictive behaviours that is overtly and covertly holding people captive is far beyond any estimation. The community at large should be aware of this danger that begins innocently but ends very viciously. Effective multipronged preventive and interventional strategies need to be evolved to help people to live productive and fulfilling lives.