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• August 16, 2023

What is Addiction


Addiction is a treatable, complex, and chronic medical condition characterized by the compulsive use of substances or engagement in certain behaviors despite negative consequences. It is considered a brain disorder that affects the brain’s reward system, leading to changes in behavior, cravings, and an inability to control substance use or behavior. Addiction doesn’t happen because of a lack of willpower or as a result of making bad decisions. Your brain chemistry changes with addiction.

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, in 2022, some 20.4 million people in the United States (about the population of New York) were diagnosed with Substance Use Disorders (SUDs). Only 10.3 percent of those people received suitable treatment for their condition. 

Certain individuals may be more predisposed to addiction due to their genetic makeup or family history. Often, environmental factors like exposure to substances at an early age or familiarity with certain behaviors in friends and family can contribute to the likelihood of developing an addiction.

And while addiction is commonly associated with substances like drugs and alcohol, it is a disease that can take many other forms.

What Different Types of Addiction Are There?

An individual can become addicted to anything that spikes the brain’s reward system and causes a chemical reaction. The nature of those addictions can, however, be categorized into one of the following: substance addiction or behavioral addiction.

Substance addiction refers to the dependence on drugs or substances such as alcohol, nicotine, opioids, cocaine, or other illicit drugs. Regular use of these substances can lead to physical and psychological dependence, causing withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped.

Behavioral addiction involves compulsive engagement in certain activities or behaviors, even when they have adverse effects on an individual’s life. Common behavioral addictions include gambling, gaming, internet use, shopping, and eating.

Are you or someone you know fighting an addiction? Learning more about what can trigger addictions and how they can be treated is crucial to handling the disease. 

Consider the following helpful articles on addiction:

How Addictions Develop

How Tolerance and Withdrawal Relate to Substance Addiction

Psychological and Physical Dependences – What They Are

The Impact Addiction Has on Your Brain and Your Behavior

The Health and Social Consequences of Addiction

Break Down the Barriers

The stigma surrounding addiction can be a significant barrier to seeking proper help and support. Efforts to reduce this stigma are essential to encouraging individuals to reach out for assistance without fear of judgment or discrimination. Like any disease, addiction requires effective treatment and awareness to provide the best opportunities for recovery.

Additionally, preventing the development of addictions is the most effective means of controlling them. Through early education, awareness campaigns, and promoting healthy coping strategies, we can help reduce the risk of developing addictive behaviors.

Addiction Doesn’t Have to Define You

Recovering from addiction is a lifelong journey, and relapses can happen. However, with the right support and determination, individuals can break free from their addiction and improve their overall quality of life. Seeking help early and understanding the nature of addiction are essential steps towards reaching those goals.At Valley Forge Medical Center, we know that addiction is a complex and chronic medical condition that needs the proper treatment and system for recovery. With the right approach and support, recovery is possible. We are here to help you develop effective prevention and treatment strategies. Contact us today.

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