What is addiction?

What is addiction?

The question why someone becomes addicted is difficult to answer. Often there are a lot of factors in the process of development, which usually takes several years. Only intensive examination of the person’s life can give an insight into the background for his/her addiction.

In the meantime it is undisputed that, apart from social, mental and other partial causes that can be termed ideological, a physiological disposition also plays a part in the development of alcoholism.

People who have never learnt to show their feelings can be tempted to hide their unwelcome feelings by misuse of addictive substances. Difficult social and family circumstances such as unemployment, separation from loved ones or the monotony of everyday life can pave the way to misuse and addiction. Other people affected had traumatic experiences in their childhood such as domestic violence or sexual abuse which they had not come to terms with.

In other cases, fun, thoughtlessness or the search for ever-new experiences were foremost in turning to addictive substances.

Addiction results from

  • Experience
  • Repetition
  • Habit.

In the beginning the (subsequent) addictive substance creates success: Depending on the mode of functioning of the particular substance and a person’s own condition, he/she can feel relieved and relaxed. Perhaps they even experience emotions and moods that they have never known before. At any rate, they feel better. And anyone who has once learnt to steer his moods and emotions with the aid of an addictive substance is soon easily tempted to do this more often.

However, with time this positive effect evaporates more and more quickly. The capability to react appropriately to personal problems declines. The desire to consume the substance becomes so strong that misuse occurs more often, in the hope of attaining a particular sense of well-being. And finally, the fatal mistake is made of increasing the dosage to improve the effect.

Mental dependency begins – the addictive substance becomes the focal point of all actions, thoughts and emotions. The only issue now is how to avoid the deep depression that will follow the lack of addictive substance. Addiction has superimposed the original problems and created new ones.

The consequences of mental dependency are, e.g.

  • All interest restricted to the addictive substance, i.e. the irresistible urge to consume and acquire the substance at all costs
  • Compulsion to repeat, and loss of control over beginning, ending and amount of substance consumed
  • Neglecting and loss of interest in family, occupation and educational
  • Replacement of friends
  • False statements about the amount and frequency of consumption
  • Continuous consumption despite mental and social consequences.

Mental dependency is difficult to grasp and resolve. It is the main reason that addicts relapse into their old habits, even when they have lived for months or years without the substance causing addiction.

Apart from mental dependency, alcohol, nicotine, some drugs and heroin also cause physical dependency: the body reacts to the permanent intake of the addictive substance by adapting its metabolism. If consumption of the substance is stopped abruptly, unpleasant, even painful or dangerous withdrawal symptoms can occur. They stop as soon as the supply is renewed. First signs of physical addiction are an increase in tolerance level and increased dosage.