Addiction is the compulsive, physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance that the user knows to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful. It is characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon cessation of abuse or the substance – anyone can suffer from it, it knows no boundaries and affects individuals regardless of gender, race, religion, profession or social class.
Substances that often lead to addiction include:
- Street drugs or prescription pharmaceuticals
It also comes in other forms and can be applied to certain behaviors that are carried out in excess:
- Dieting or overeating
Scientific advances over the past 20 years have shown that drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain that results from the prolonged effects of drugs on the nervous system. In addition, addiction has embedded behavioral and psycho-social aspects that are important parts of the disease itself. Thus, effective treatment must include physiological (i.e., medical) and psychological (i.e., behavioral) components.