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Hello readers, I am going to be starting a series on addictions. It is based on true events and I really hope you enjoy it. Before we go on, I will say a few general words on the nature of addiction.
What is addiction? It is defined as the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
Addiction comes in different shades and types. There is the addiction to drugs and alcohol; there is sex addiction; addiction to pornography; Internet addiction and for some it is addiction to the TV.
Whatever the addiction is, they share several attributes. One of them is the priority given to the objet of addiction- it takes priority and precedence over the life of the person addicted.
Also, other important things in the person’s life suffer as a result of this dedication to the object of addiction. These include productivity at work, relationships, health and other recreational activities. For some it leads to reckless and risk taking behaviors, crime and problems with the legal system.
Another important feature of addiction is the loss of control over the object of addiction. Usually, by the time the addictive behavior is causing significant problems, the addict wants to stop or reduce the time dedicated to these behaviors but they find out that they are no longer in control of themselves. The behavior has now taken over their lives. That is usually when some seek help or are forced by their families to seek help but many still continue to believe that they are able to stop on their own and all they need to do is to fight harder.
Sadly, the more they fight, the more they sink into the addictive behaviors, and at this time many despair and give up, and just resign their lives to be controlled by the behaviors. That is when many begin to give excuses, that it isn’t their faults or to justify that they have tried their best and some say that it is their weakness or their cross to bear. Some become so frustrated and commit suicide.
Over the years, advances in medicine have shown that addiction is really a disease that is caused by a lot of factors. These factors include genetic factors, environmental factors and the social factors. The decision to indulge in an act is usually due to external influences: seeing a father, friend or role model do it and then wanting to act in the same way or it could be due to pressure from peer group.
Continuing in the act is determined by the sense of pleasure the individual derives from the act at that time and also from influences that initiated him/her in the first place. Also the more widespread the behavior is, the more likely it is that the individual will continue doing it and the more likely it is that the person becomes addicted.
Genes determines a person’s vulnerability to addiction, and also the way a person reacts to influences around him/her. A person that has a personality trait that is high in novelty seeking, which is an extreme curiosity in learning new things and trying out new things, is most likely to be become addicted than the person that is not. Such people do not care for rules or societal norms and are more likely to use illegal substances and even when they start, they enjoy the pleasure so much and can’t bring themselves to stop.
These findings have made a radical shift in the approach to addiction. Now we know that addiction is basically a brain disease similar to any other neurologic or psychiatric disorder. So, if you are addicted to any substances or behavior, do not feel condemned.
The next series will be talking about the necessary steps to take in overcoming addictions. Overcoming addictions is a process, a journey, and each step is taken in sequence. It takes dedication and patience, and a commitment to make it work. It is fueled by a determination to succeed and overcome the addiction.
So follow me as we go through the steps on this journey.