Addiction is a behavioral disorder, characterized by a pattern of behaviors which may include impaired control, compulsive use despite negative consequences to social, mental or physical well-being, the need for greater amounts of a substance to achieve the same effect, and symptoms of withdrawal after use.

Clinical diagnosis based on criteria provided by the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) and World Health Organization (ICD-10). Addiction is distinct from dependence, which is the body’s normal response to the use of a substance, and levels may range from mild to moderate to severe. Mild substance use disorder in DSM-5 requires 2-3 symptoms being present out of the following 11:

  1. Out of Control – Experience periods of drinking that were more or longer than intended.
  2. Inability to Stop – Want to cut down or stop, but couldn’t.
  3. Time – Spend a lot of time drinking, or recovering from drinking.
  4. Obsession – Spend a lot of time thinking about driking, or otherwise can’t think of anything else.
  5. Causing Problems – Issues at home, work, or school cause by substance abuse.
  6. Won’t Stop – Won’t stop substance use, even though it’s causing negative issues at home, work, or school.
  7. Stop Other Activities – Replace other activities you once enjoyed with drinking or substance use.
  8. Physical Danger – Substance abuse has put you in situations that were unsafe, including risks to your life, or another person’s life.
  9. Health Issues – Continue to drink despite health issues, including anxiety and depression.
  10. Developed Tolerance – Must use more of the substance in order to get the same high.
  11. Withdrawal Symptoms – After coming down from a high, experienced withdrawal symptoms, which could include trouble sleeping, shakiness, restlessness, nausea, sweating, a racing heart, or a seizure? Or sensed things that were not there?

Other Definitions of Addiction

The following organizations offer insight into what addiction is:

  • The American Academy of Pain Medicine
  • The American Pain Society
  • The American Society of Addiction Medicine

Factors that Affect Addiction

Factors that influence the development and manifestation of addiction include:

  • genetic
  • psychosocial
  • environmental factors

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