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What Does Addiction Mean? Symptoms and Treatment

Over 23 million people depend on alcohol or other substances despite knowing the harmful side effects. This dependance is an addiction.

Addiction is characterized by an intense craving for something, losing control over use, and continued use despite adverse effects.

Addiction changes the brain by changing how it processes pleasure, spoiling other impulses like motivation and learning.

According to research, over 23 million people depend on alcohol or other substances despite knowing the harmful side effects. Breaking the addiction is difficult, but it is still possible.

Continue reading to learn what addiction is, how it develops, and how we can treat it and return to an addiction-free life.

Key Takeaways

Addiction is the inability to stop using a substance or engaging in an activity, even though doing so harms one’s physical and mental health. The key points of this piece include the following:

  • A significant, long-term dependence on a substance or activity is known as addiction.
  • Family history, early drug use, peer pressure, and mental health problems can result in the development of addiction.
  • Poor physical or mental health, low educational performance, and unemployment are common signs of addiction.
  • Inpatient, outpatient, partial hospitalization, medication, psychotherapy, and support groups can help to get back to a healthy life.

Get quality addiction care from The Recovery Team. Contact us at (800) 817-1247 to learn more about our treatment programs and service charges.

Understanding Addiction

Addiction is the inability to stop using a substance or engaging in an activity, despite the fact that doing so is harmful to one’s physical and mental health.

The term addiction does not apply to reliance on alcohol or other narcotics drugs such as heroin, opiates, and cocaine. Some addictions may involve a persistent inability to give up behaviors like

  • Gambling
  • Eating food
  • Gaming
  • cell phone
  • Sex
  • Shopping  
  • Internet addiction

Many people start using a drug or engage in an activity unintentionally. Over time, they become addicted to it. Addiction, however, has the power to take over and weaken self-control.

Drug or Alcohol Addiction  

Heroin, marijuana, cocaine, and other illegal narcotics are not the only sources of drug addiction. Alcohol, nicotine, sleep aids, anti-anxiety drugs, and other prescription prescriptions can all cause addiction.

Narcotic painkillers, known as opioids, whether taken legitimately or illegally, can also cause addiction. In the United States, this issue has epidemic proportions. Opioids caused two-thirds of all drug overdose deaths in 2018.

People initially use drugs because they enjoy how it makes them feel. They believe they control how much and how frequently you use it. These bodily alterations may persist for an extended period. They cause you to lose control and may prompt harmful actions.

Signs of Addiction

The following are the main signs of addiction:

  • Decreasing grades or trouble in school or at work
  • Loss of motivation and energy
  • Ignoring one’s appearance
  • Spending more significant amounts of money on the substance
  • Obsessing about the next dose, ensuring a consistent supply of the substance
  • worrying about the next source of the substance
  • Performing risky behaviors while intoxicated
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when unable to take the drug
  • Stealing money to get the drug
  • Lying about consumption habits or getting defensive or aggressive when questioned about consumption
  • Poor performance in relationships
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Poor hygiene

Common Risk Factors of Addiction

The body and brain are unique to each individual. Drugs also affect people differently. Some people enjoy the sensation when they first experience it and want more.

Drug usage does not always lead to addiction. However, it can occur to anyone, regardless of age. Your risk of addiction may be increased by several factors, such as:

Family Background

You are more likely to struggle with alcohol or drugs if your parents or siblings do. Addiction is equally likely to affect both men and women. It is unclear if the connection is genetic or social. 

Early Drug Use 

Children’s brains are still developing, and drug use can alter this. Therefore, using drugs when you’re young may increase your risk of developing an addiction later in life.

Mental Disorders

You are more likely to develop an addiction if you’re depressed, have difficulties focusing, or worry all the time. To try to feel better, you might turn to drugs.

You are also more prone to struggle with addiction if you have a history of trauma.

Troubled Relationships

Your likelihood of developing an addiction may increase if you experience family issues. Lack of parental attention can also result in the development of addiction.

Peer Pressure

Besides environmental factors, peer pressure is a common factor in starting to use and misuse drugs, particularly for young people. Various young adults start taking drugs to feel relaxed because of their love, elder siblings, friends, and parents’ pressure and social life.

Using A Highly Addictive Drug

Substances like amphetamine, cocaine, or opiate medicines may cause addiction to develop more quickly than other drugs. Addiction risk is increased when narcotics are smoked or injected.

Complications of Addiction

Dependence on drugs and alcohol can create a number of dangerous and damaging complications, including:

Infectious Diseases

Drug addicts are more likely to engage in unsafe intercourse or share needles with others, which increases their risk of contracting an infectious disease like HIV.

Mental Health Problems

Mental health is as important as physical health. It has been seen people who take drugs and alcohol to feel relaxed are at higher risk of mental health issues, for example.

  • Depression
  • Trouble in sleep
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia


People struggling with addiction are more prone to drive or engage in other risky activities under the influence. Severe brain and physical injuries are more common in people who use alcohol and addictive drugs. 

Physical Health Problems

Several short- and long-term mental and physical health issues can result from drug addiction. Studies have shown significant health issues are:

  • Liver damage
  • Lung or heart disease
  • Stroke
  • kidney failure
  • Brain or chest cancer 

Suicide Risk

The research found that people dependent on alcohol and drugs are more likely to die by suicide than people who abstain from drugs to do so.

Family Problems

Addiction is considered a chronic family disease. It affects the whole family badly and results in negative consequences. Changes in behavior can lead to custody disputes and issues in families or relationships.

Work Issues

Drug use can result in decreased productivity at work, desertion, and, ultimately, a loss of employment. People dealing with addiction typically prefer to satisfy addiction cravings instead of performing well in job responsibilities.

Low Academic Performance

Drug use can harm academic achievement and drive to succeed. Research has shown people dependent on alcohol or other narcotics drugs can’t perform well as compared to people who are far away from addiction.

Legal Issues

People addicted to drugs frequently experience legal issues, which can result from purchasing or using illegal drugs, stealing to fund the addiction, operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or from custody battles.

Financial Problems  

Spending money to fund drug use shifts resources away from other needs. It may result in debt and may encourage unethical or unlawful activity.

When to See a Doctor

Dealing with withdrawal symptoms can be challenging for drug and behavioral addictions. The physiological effects of withdrawal from substances can be excruciating, irritating, and even fatal. 

Fortunately, most acute withdrawal symptoms decrease after a week or two after quitting. But for some people who overcome addiction, some withdrawal symptoms seem never to disappear.

Post-acute withdrawal syndrome is what is causing this, and in some instances, it can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Additionally, addictions can occasionally hide underlying mental health issues like anxiety, sadness, sleep issues, and even psychosis.

Consult a health care provider if you are feeling down because you have stopped taking drugs and the activity you were used to. 

Your medical expert is the only one who can suggest an effective treatment program and provide you with professional help to overcome withdrawal symptoms.

Treatment Options for Addiction

You can get support from various medical and psychological therapies to help you overcome an addiction. Although there is no one correct style of addiction therapy, some methods have stronger scientific backing.

Mental illnesses and mental health disorders can be easily treated by admitting to the right program at the rehab center. The treatment facilities offer the right strategies and treatment plans to overcome substance use disorders. These treatment approaches include:


Detoxification is the process by which drugs and other addictive substances are removed from your body. The first step of treatment for addiction is detox. You will experience withdrawal symptoms after detox.

The withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Appetite loss
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Muscle aches
  • Dilated pupils

There are medications to ease these withdrawal symptoms of substance misuse during addiction treatment.

Moreover, healthcare professionals recommend the right medicines for treating these withdrawal symptoms. After detox, there is a rehab program. 

The rehab programs are divided into residential and outpatient treatment programs.

Inpatient Treatment Program

Residential treatment or an inpatient treatment program usually occurs in a residential treatment center. The inpatient treatment program usually lasts one month or 30 days. Still, it may go longer depending on the addiction severity of an individual.

In inpatient programs, the patient will stay in the treatment facility 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Patients are under the medical supervision of healthcare professionals. 

The rehab center staff helps you recover from substance abuse or substance use disorder. How long the inpatient rehab treatment will depend on the individual situation. Some will recover quickly, while others may take a long time in inpatient rehab.

Outpatient Treatment Program

An individual who participates in an outpatient rehab program keeps living at home while attending regularly spaced sessions or receiving services at a treatment facility.

Outpatient therapy typically focuses on counseling, education, and assisting patients in managing without needing drugs. Its therapeutic options are frequently on par with inpatient or residential alternatives. The outpatient treatment program has different levels of care.

In standard outpatient treatment, there are one-three sessions of counseling weekly. Usually, these sessions are a type of group therapy. Still, in these sessions, one is at least an individual therapy session with a therapist.

Less than ten hours a week are required for therapy, and low-risk individuals are allowed to remain at home and work as long as they can maintain sobriety.

Partial Hospitalization Program

These programs assist people who may live comfortably at home part-time while concentrating hard on individual and group therapy for several hours several days per week.

People coping with co-occurring mental health issues and substance abuse can benefit greatly from these programs.

The outpatient programs also include:

  • Individual behavioral therapy
  • Family and group counseling
  • Medications
  • Support groups when rehab treatment is completed.

Intensive outpatient treatment is a viable alternative for those who want to concentrate on their treatment for a few weeks or perhaps a few months before returning to their regular lives.

Although it offers a similar degree of intensity to inpatient treatment, it is less expensive. This concentrated, short-term concentration on therapy may be helpful for those with mental health problems.


Some well-known medications are used in the treatment of drug addiction. These are the prescription medications that healthcare professionals recommend during addiction treatment.

These include:

  • Disulfiram or Antabuse
  • Buprenorphine
  • Methadone
  • Suboxone
  • Naltrexone or Vivitrol
  • Acamprosate or Campral

Always take these medications on the recommendation of a medical professional. Don’t misuse them, as they will cause further life-threatening conditions.

Support Groups

Those in recovery and those seeking further help to keep sober might find safety in support groups. Participating in a substance abuse support group has the following advantages:

  • Stress, despair, and weariness are all decreased as a result
  • Connecting with others going through similar things will make you feel less lonely
  • Enhancing the ability to cope with difficulties
  • Gaining self-assurance and hope for addiction recovery

The list of support groups is provided below, which you can join to stay sober and integrate into the network of support:

Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous is a 12-step support group for individuals who want to recover from alcohol addiction. In these support groups, group members offer you emotional support.

You can share your personal experiences and problems related to addiction with other members of the group. The only requirement to join this group is that you want to quit alcohol use.

SMART Recovery

Self-Management and Recovery Training is the abbreviation for SMART Recovery. It is a support group for those with behavioral disorders, substance addictions, and alcohol use disorders.

You may regulate your desire for substances through this program, which provides cognitive behavioral therapy.

Women for Sobriety (WFS)

This program specifically addresses the challenges women face during recovery. The “acceptance statements” that support women in overcoming trauma and forgiving themselves are the foundation of WFS. Women will get the assistance they need in these programs to stay sober. 

Women for Sobriety also communicates with their members via online discussion boards, which makes it simpler for women to get support.


People can enhance their coping skills, create new behavioral patterns, and change the underlying ideas that frequently accompany addiction with psychotherapy.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) aims to recognize and alter the thoughts and actions contributing to addictions. It has been proven to assist individuals successfully in overcoming all types of addictions.

Mindfulness Therapy

Many people may find it simpler to relate to mindfulness-based techniques like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Like CBT, mindfulness benefits patients with underlying mental health issues like depression or anxiety.

Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET)

MET is a strategy that aids in boosting people’s openness to change. It can be beneficial for increasing the dedication and motivation to begin and continue addiction treatment.

Family Therapy

Family counseling techniques can be beneficial, especially for teens and young adults, to get rid of addiction. The effectiveness of this therapy is in enhancing general family functioning and teaching families how to support the recovery of a loved one. 

If you are looking for help to get rid of addiction, you can get it from the recovery team at affordable price tags. We offer various treatment programs to assist people in living a healthy and happy life.

Our medical professionals are highly qualified and trained to give people exceptional services and feel comfortable to stop drinking alcohol and taking drugs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the true meaning of addiction?

Definition of addiction is a chronic medical disease characterized by obsessive drug seeking and usage, even when doing so has adverse effects. 
Addiction has severe side effects such as heart, lung, and liver damage, cancer, and mental health problems. The worst part of addiction is that it can cause a person’s death.

What are 4 different forms of addiction?

Addiction is a chronic medical disease that can have horrible consequences if ignored. However, in terms of substance addictions, some of the more common types of addiction are:
Alcohol addiction
Prescription drug addiction
Heroin addiction
Opioid addiction
Cocaine addiction

What does it mean to be addicted to a person?

Obsessive attention paid to the partner with insufficient attention to oneself might indicate an addictive relationship. These connections are addictive because there is a strong desire to get to know and stay in touch with a specific individual.

Achieve Long-Term Sobriety at The Recovery Team

Addiction can result in adverse consequences if left untreated. If you are looking for help to get rid of addiction, let The Recovery Team be your support to battle addiction.

We offer several treatment programs, including residential treatment programs, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient treatment programs, outpatient treatment programs, and transitional living treatment programs to help people get back to a healthy life.

Furthermore, our customer support is available round the clock to answer all your questions about the admission process. Our counselors guide you to getting registered in the right treatment program to get what you need the most to make the recovery process successful. 

Call (800) 817-1247 to speak to our admission counselors.