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What Is Addiction

What is Addiction?

The word “addicted” is often casually thrown around in reference to people being overly obsessed or concerned with something.  In reality, addiction isn’t simply the act of being overly infatuated with a certain object, substance, or activity.  Addiction is a cognitive disease that is often manifested through a strong dependence on mind or mood altering chemicals.  While it is recognized in the medical community as possible to become addicted to anything that provides our brains with the “reward” chemicals of dopamine and serotonin, perhaps one of the strongest and most harmful ways addiction can be observed is drug abuse dependency, or an addiction to illicit and mind altering substances.

There are numerous different substances, drugs, and pharmaceuticals that one can become addicted to.  Nearly everything that has an abuse or addictive potential is a substance that promotes a high level of dopamine and serotonin production in the brain.  These chemicals are responsible for euphoric feelings of happiness or elation.  Drugs and alcohol synthetically produce or provoke an inflation of euphoric sensations through the over production of dopamine, which is known as a “high”.  Depending upon the substance and the amount used, a drug high can last anywhere from a few minutes to over 24 hours.  Because the initial high of a drug is typically such a pleasurable sensation, the user may continue to abuse the drug in an effort to retain the euphoria.  Repeated use of any mind altering drug or alcohol will over time develop into a physical and mental dependence upon such, and ultimately can contribute to an addiction to it.

What causes substance abuse addiction dependency?

Substance abuse addiction dependency and the root cause of such is a much debated topic.  What is most widely accepted throughout the scientific and medical communities is that the disease of addiction has three contributing factors to its progression:  biological, social, and psychological factors all play large roles in an individual’s diagnosis of being addicted to a drug or alcohol.

  • Biological substance abuse addiction dependency

    • While there is no solid evidence yet that completely proves that addiction can be solely inherited biologically, or passed down from parents to children – it has been determined that those who have addiction in their family history have what is known as a “predisposition” for developing addiction later in life.

  • Social drug abuse dependency

    • Family dynamic, social environment, social-economic status and other outside environmental factors also play a role in addiction.  While it cannot be said that the exposure to (or lack thereof) to significant drug or alcohol activity during the early years of adolescence or childhood development is the primary contributing factor to addiction, it does play a key part in an individual’s likelihood in developing a substance abuse addiction dependency problem later in life.

  • Psychological drug abuse dependency

    • Mental health prognosis and mental illness contributes largely as well to the disease of addiction.  An individual who has previously suffered from mental health issues, or who has not been formally diagnosed but has the symptoms of a mental health illness may carry a predisposition for addiction.


Addiction to drugs and alcohol often isn’t noticeable until an individual becomes so entangled within the dependency on their substance of choice that they begin to make detrimental and irrational decisions to continue use.  There are signs and symptoms of addiction that family members and friends can look for when attempting to determine if their loved one is suffering from drug abuse dependency:

  • Isolation

  • Lack of interest in previously held hobbies

  • Financial problems

  • Irrational decision making

  • Legal problems that are a direct result of drug and alcohol use

  • Changes in mood or behavior

  • Personality changes

  • Lack of self-care

  • Stealing and dishonesty to continue financially supporting habit

  • Hidden drug paraphernalia


If you or your loved one has been previously, or you suspect is presently suffering from substance abuse addiction dependency, call Addiction Solutions today.  We offer a wide range of addiction treatment options for a variety of substance dependency issues.  To get started on your track to recovery, call us today.

Recovery Begins with the First Step.

Call to Speak with One of Our Addiction Specialists Today.