Addiction: Definition, Symptoms, Withdrawal, and Treatment
Addiction alters the brain, making smart decisions difficult, yet there is an efficient treatment for drug and alcohol use disorders. At Marcellus Wellness & Addiction, our board-certified psychiatric mental health and adult nurse practitioner, Jean-Jeffrey Marcellus, offers compassionate care for patients whose lives have been harmed by drug abuse and mental health issues. For more information, contact us or book an appointment online. We serve patients from Bronx NY, Brooklyn NY, Manhattan NY, Queens NY, Rockville Centre NY, Staten Island NY, and surrounding areas.
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Addiction is a term that encompasses several different behaviors and actions and can vary a fair bit in intensity. Leaving an addiction untreated can quickly lead to significant negative consequences that will affect an individual’s quality of life, so treatment is the best way forward to ensure a long, happy, and healthy life moving forward.
Addiction is a chronic disease that can be caused by several factors that often interact with one another to cause the individual to engage in behaviors or use substances that with continued participation or use result in harmful consequences. The factors that contribute to the addiction include the environment, brain circuits, family history (genetics), and life experiences/trauma. The behaviors or substance use will typically occur compulsively, and will likely lead to impaired judgment when engaging in the behavior or using the substance when left untreated. The compulsive need for the substance or to engage in the behavior can be both physiological or psychological and will be habit-forming, leading to harmful consequences including declined physical and mental health, and often withdrawal symptoms without regular continued use such as irritability, anxiety, or nausea. Addiction can be towards substances including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, or with activities or behaviors such as gambling, pornography, shopping, and stealing, to name a few.
The exact symptoms that any one individual suffering from an addiction may display can vary quite a bit, but will likely include both psychological and physiological symptoms, many of which will be both mental and physical. Common symptoms of addiction include:
– Increased tolerance – This is common for those who have an addiction to a substance, as the more they continue to regularly use the substance, the more they will need each time to achieve the same results (to experience the same degree of drunk or high, for example).
– Lack of control and inability to stop – As the individual becomes more dependent on the substance or activity, it will become more difficult to stop using or engaging in the behavior, feeling as if they have lost control over how much they engage in the activity.
– Inability to not think about the activity or substance – Many individuals with addiction will find it increasingly difficult to continue their day without thinking about the next time that they can use the substance or engage in the activity.
It is also very common for those with an addiction to go through symptoms of withdrawal if they have gone a noticeable amount of time in between using or engaging in the behavior, such as physical symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and tremors, as well as psychological symptoms including becoming increasingly irritable or anxious.
Withdrawal in terms of addiction most commonly refers to the physical and psychological symptoms that an addict will experience if they stop, limit, or postpone the use of the addictive substance, but can also be experienced with addictive behaviors. Many addicts who are trying to recover from the disease will try to abruptly stop engaging in the behavior or using the addictive substance, leading them to experience significant withdrawal symptoms that will continue either until the behavior or substance is continued or a certain amount of time has passed, with symptoms often worsening until they dissipate. Going through withdrawal is often necessary for the treatment of the addiction, but is the main reason it is so difficult for many addicts to recover as withdrawal symptoms can be very intense and painful, making it feel impossible to get through alone.
The exact steps that any individual dealing with addiction may need for recovery will vary quite a bit from person to person, depending on how intense the addiction is, what they are addicted to, and any underlying environmental triggers or causes that may be leading to increased symptoms or make it more difficult to overcome the addiction. Most addiction recovery treatments will involve a step where the individual will have to acknowledge the addiction, identifying that they do in fact have a problem that is affecting their life and that they would be better off treating the problem. Other steps that are necessary for treatment, regardless of the individual or their addiction, include professional support, often from several specialists who are experienced in treating addiction such as physicians and therapists, as well as determining methods to prevent relapse. All three steps are vital in ensuring that the individual can treat the current problem as well as prevent it from reoccurring down the line. More individualized treatment plans can be determined for patients who visit a treatment center to overcome their addiction that will be best suited for their individual situation to give them the best shot at recovery.
Marcellus Wellness & Addiction offers outpatient treatment for patients who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. For more information, please contact us or book an appointment online. We serve patients from Bronx NY, Brooklyn NY, Manhattan NY, Queens NY, Rockville Centre NY, Staten Island NY, and surrounding areas.