What is an Addiction? A Simple Explanation
What is an addiction? If you take illegal drugs, are you a drug addict? If you drink alcohol, are you an alcoholic? If your weight is 500 pounds, are addicted to over-eating? If you wash your hands 20 times a day, are you compulsively addicted to the behavior of washing your hands?
If you answered “Yes” to all the above questions, you might find out that you are wrong!
“Addiction is an uncontrollable habit that stems from the person's lack of ability or will power to control one's choice by being able to just say “no” and walk away.” The key word in the above definition is “uncontrollable.” To put it simply: the desire to do an act far outweighs the benefit of doing the act! This may seem like a circular argument, but it is, in fact, a straight forward answer to the question: 'What is an addiction?'
The question of addiction generally falls in the category of using something or doing something to the point that its usage or the repetitive action becomes excessive. Therefore, it is not the actual amount of the substance (or the number of actual repetitive actions) that determines whether there is an addiction. What determines if there is an addiction is that the person does it to excess and, more importantly, that the person has lost the ability to control the number of times they consume the substance or perform the action.
There are two basic types of addictions: The first is dependency on a substance(s). The excessive use of alcohol and drugs is a common example of this addiction. The other type is a repetitive action that a person does over and over again. Examples of this are repetitively washing your hands or the insatiable desire to look at pornography. In both types of addictions, the consumption of the item or the performance of the action provides only temporary relief of the desire to consume the substance or perform the action.
For some people the abuse of a substance is a means to escape a problem or an issue in their lives. For others the the consumption of the substance or the repetitive action simply provides a temporary pleasurable or satisfying sensation that constantly needs to be repeated.
The problem with substance addiction is your body begins to build a tolerance to the substance and the body becomes more dependent upon that substance as time continues. Before one realizes the dosages needed to attain the same level of satisfaction needs to be constantly increased. The same is true for the action. You may feel your hands need another washing even though they look and smell clean and your last washing was only 20 minutes ago. The problem is not that they are dirty. The issue is that the addictive desire to constantly wash them trancends the need for the hands to washed. The pleasure recieved or the satisfcation derived comes from the action of washing them and not the fact that they are dirty and need to be cleaned.
The key to cure any addiction is to find the root of what is causing the person to become addicted. If one is able to understand the root cause or causes then one is able to work towards curing the addictive behavior. Remember this: simply taking away the substance does not work. Forcing one to stop the action does not work. Unless one determines the cause and understands why that cause results in the addiction then there is no possibility of finding a successful cure or solution to the addictive behavior.
Hopefully this simple explanation provides a basic understanding to the question of “What is an Addiction?”
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