Drug Rehab & Addiction

Addiction: What is it?

There are many different definitions of addiction. At its broadest, addiction could describe any pattern of behavior in which immediate gain is preferred over longer-term harms or even rewards. Alternatively, addiction could be described as an attachment to an appetitive activity, so strong that a person finds it difficult to moderate the activity, even if they wish to do so, despite the fact that is it causing harm. Possible addictive substances/activities include: alcohol; tobacco; hard drugs; and also gambling and eating. Some would claim that this list could be further expanded to include exercise, caffeine, prescribed medication, shoplifting, and sex. Addiction is probably not a universal human experience or a cultural constant: A number of languages do not have a word for it (e.g. Swedish). There can be a danger with expanding the term addiction too much: it is important for it to preserve a focussed meaning. In most cases addiction refers to a strong and harmful substance dependency (such as to alcohol or heroin); this was the main focus of the seminar.

What factors are believed to lead to addiction?

Taking the definition suggested above a strong and harmful substance dependency, the effect of any such substance on an individual, and its addictiveness will depend on a number of factors, which can be categorized around an examination of: the drug: Different drugs have widely varying properties. The time needed for addiction to develop, the type of addiction and the difficulty to overcome it will generally differ across substances. This refers to personal characteristics, ranging from genetic predisposition and physiological state to values and attitudes towards risk. Significant general factors include gender, age and ethnic group; the person’s environment is also believed to play a crucial role. This includes parental influence, peer pressure, government policies, community attitudes, the extent of income and social inequality, availability and price of the substances, level of policing etc.