Information on Addiction and addictive substances

Information on Addiction and addictive substances

In 1957 the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined addiction as a condition of periodical or chronic toxication caused by repeated supply of a particular substance and characterized by four criteria:

  • Irrepressible desire to consume and obtain the substance
  • Tendency of increased dosage
  • Physical and mental dependency
  • Consequential damage for the consumer and society

Addiction is not restricted to exposure to particular substances. Any form of human behavior can lead to addiction or adopt traits similar to addiction, e.g. compulsive buying, addiction to internet, pathological gambling, workaholism.

Behaviour becomes an addiction when three factors exist together, forming a batch which cannot be isolated from one another:

  • The addictive substance : availability, impact
  • The person: mental features such as ability to work under pressure, painful experiences, anxiety, physical factors, e.g. genetic components, tolerance range
  • Cultural and social factors, e.g. acceptance in society, consumption tradition, family and occupational situation, perspective.

Click on the links below to learn more about the following topics:

...What is addiction?

...Treatment options