The Many Faces of Addiction

what addiction looks likeIdentifying a case of addiction can be difficult for a number of reasons. One reason is because addicts usually try to conceal their addictions and hide them away where the people in their lives cannot find them. Another reason is because the non-addicted person may not have a clear understanding of what addiction is and therefore not understand what they should be looking for or how they should interact with the addict. Addiction takes many forms, in both the range of things that one can be addicted to and how they affect that person’s behavior.

The two main different types of addictions are process addictions and substance addictions. A process addiction is when someone is addicted to a particular activity, such as sex, exercise or gambling. The person becomes obsessed with carrying out the activity in order to achieve a high from it. The other type of addiction is a substance addiction. This type of addiction relies on an ingested substance to initiate the high through altering the chemistry of the body and brain. Both produce the pleasure chemical dopamine within the brain which is the impetus for the repetitive addictive behavior.

Addiction creates some similar behavior patterns within people, but the way a person behaves under the influence of addiction is also very particular to that person. Some of the more common tells of an addict are as follows:

  • Time. An addict will plan and adjust their time around their addiction to make sure that a majority of their time goes to endulging in their addiction. If you see the person you suspect of being an addict begin to give less and less time to things that used to matter to them, at the same time they are being secretive of how they are reallocating their time, they may be an addict.
  • Money. Addicts invest a large portion of their money into their addiction. Some more than others, obviously, as some addictions are more expensive than others. For example, an addiction to alcohol or gambling are very costly addictions, where as someone can be addicted to sex or exercise on a budget. However, even the less expensive addictions add up as the person invests more and more into increasing their high.
  • Energy. The amount of energy a person will give to their addiction is staggering. They will stop putting their energy toward their relationships, thier job, their schooling and their responsibilities in order to give the best of themselves to their addiction.
  • Health. An addict’s health will deteriorate, either quickly or gradually, depending on their addiction. Substance addictions affect a persons health more rapidly where as process addictions affect a person’s health more slowly.


Understanding Addiction

.understand addictionTrying to understand addiction when you are not an addict is impossible. The reason it is impossible is because not even addicts understand why they do what they do. In fact, trying to understand addiction is a waste of time because there is no logic to follow. There is no logic to addiction, only destruction.

Addicts use their addiction to feel good, just like non-addicts use pleasurable things to feel good. Non-addicts may even distinguish their favorite pleasurable things to use more than others. The difference between an addict and a non-addict is that a non-addict is equipped with the ability to moderate their usage of pleasurable things and keep their lives in balance. They are aware of when they are overusing a pleasurable thing and it is having negative side effects on their life somewhere. Most importantly, they are equipped with the ability to stop doing the thing that is having negative effects on their lives, or at least reduce how often they use it. An addict does not come with this self preservation mechanism.

Mental health experts believe the reason that addiction exists boils down to dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical the brain produces during a pleasurable experience. Dopamine is what we spend much of our lives in pursuit of, as it signifies desirability and comfort. The brains of addicts have been revealed to not produce as much dopamine. Experts are unsure at this point what causes this stunted dopamine production, but it would seem that those who cannot create enough dopamine through the simple pleasures that everyone encounters turn to addictive substances as a way of gaining that much craved rush of dopamine.

If you are a non-addict trying to understand how an addict operates, the best thing you can do to empathize with them is reach out for help. Addiction treatment specialists, support groups and counselors can offer you excellent information to help you empathize with the plight of the addict in your life, as well as show you how to interact with them in a healthy way. There are addiction treatment services Calgary, Vancouver, Montreal and in many more locations in North America.


Process Addictions

process addictionAddictions that are characterized by acting out a process are called process addictions. Unlike a substance addiction, process addictions rely on carrying out a process step-by-step in order to achieve a euphoric state, where as substance addictions depend on the substance itself to do the work of creating a high. Process addictions award the addict the same rush of dopamine that one would get from an addictive substance. It is simply achieved through different means. Some of the most common process addictions are as follows:

  • Sex. The process of having sex or participating in sex related activities is highly addictive to some people. Sex achieves a rush of dopamine that many sex addicts spend a great deal of time, money and energy seeking. Everyone gets pleasure from sex but some people become obsessed with having it.
  • Gambling. The excitement and uncertainty of gambling can create an addiction within many people. The risk factor and the chance factor become some people’s personal fascination that they cannot quit. Gambling addicts are known to spend every cent they make on gambling.
  • Video Gaming. Having an obsession with video gaming can strike any age, from adolescent to mature. Video game creators go to great lengths to make video games more and more immersive, and they have become highly addictive to a number of people.
    Internet. Since the emergence of the internet, a number of people have begun using it compulsively and arranging their lives around it. It is highly entertaining and informative, which makes it difficult for anyone to put aside, but for people prone to addiction, the internet can prove irresistible.
  • Cell Phones. Like the internet, cell phones are another life altering piece of technology that provide entertainment, communication and information to their owners. At first, cell phones are merely habit forming, but a number of people have taken habit to addiction by obsessing over their cell phones.
  • Work. The term “workaholic” emerged to describe people who are obsessed with their professional endeavors. A workaholic is in the habit of putting their work above their family, friends, health and personal responsibilities This is considered a very real and detrimental addiction.
  • Exercise. One may think that exercising is a healthy thing to de addicted to, but when someone is prioritizing exercise over their loved ones and life responsibilities, it requires intervention.


Substance Addictions

addicted to a substanceA substance addiction is one of several types of addiction. When a person is addicted to ingesting a substance, it is referred to as a substance addiction. Substance addictions comes in many forms and produce many different effect. Several different types of substance addictions are as follows.

  • Alcohol. This substance can easily be considered the most addictive, unnecessary substance on earth. It is more available for purchase to the public than any other substance besides food. An overwhelming majority of Canadians have access to alcohol close to their homes. Alcohol alters a person’s mood which many people find desirable, but it creates a physical dependence within people, meaning if a person drinks it regularly, they will have to keep increasing the amount they ingest in order to keep feeling its effects. When a person overuses it, they will begin to suffer serious mental and physical health problems. Canadians struggling with an alcohol dependence should reach out to an alcoholism treatment center in Alberta, a detox center in Ontario or an alcohol rehab BC.
  • Street Drugs. Illegal drugs are also called street drugs. They include substances such as heroine, cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms, PCP, cannabis and a number of other fringe drugs. New street drugs emerge all the time because people continuously create new ones in search of a new high. A number of these street drugs are highly addictive for the mood altering effects that they possess.
  • Prescription Drugs. People become addicted to prescription drugs more often than the public realizes. Prescription medications such as opiate pain killers become addictive because a person’s dosage needs to be continuously increased in order for them to keep feeling the effects of the drug. Withdrawal symptoms to prescription drugs can be severe, which inspires the addict to continue abusing them.
  • Food. Everyone needs food in order to survive. That complicates matters where addiction is concerned. One has to consider balance and moderation in assessing a food addiction. If a person abuses food and eats it in excess of what is good for them in order to feel normal, stabilize their mood or get a high, they are a food addict.
  • Tobacco. Cigarettes and tobacco are a legal recreational substance. They produce a calming effect within the smoker. Unfortunately, they are also highly addictive as well as dangerous. Cigarettes are especially dangerous because they contain tar and harsh chemicals, but smoking any plant matter can cause lung disease.
  • Other. Lastly, some people ingest strange substances that do not fit with any other character