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Read about addiction medical facts: what is the definition of addiction, what are the signs and symptoms, medical treatment & how to treat addiction, prevalence, and related addiction diseases.

Definition: What is "Addiction"?


Addiction was a term used to describe an attachment, devotion, dedication, inclination, etc. Nowadays, however, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences to the individual's health, social life, or mental state. The term is often reserved for drug addictions but it is sometimes applied to other compulsions, such as compulsive overeating & problem gambling. Factors that have been suggested as causes of addiction include biological/pharmacological, genetic & social factors.

Symptoms & Signs

Some symptoms of a person with an addiction include reclusive behavior, where the individual spends long periods of time in self-imposed isolation. He may also have a change in friends & start hanging out with a new group. The person may also have long & unexplained absences & lie & steal. He may have involvement with the wrong side of the law, have deteriorating family relationships, possess an obvious intoxication & may be delirious, incoherent, or unconscious. Other signs of addiction are changes in behavior & attitude & a decrease in school performance.

Treatment: How to Treat "Addiction"?

While addiction or dependency is associated to seemingly uncontrollable urges & arguably could have roots in genetic predispositions, treatment of dependency is conducted by a wide range of medical & allied professionals, including Addiction Medicine specialists, psychiatrists & appropriately trained nurses, social workers & counselors. Early treatment of acute withdrawal often comprises of medical detoxification, which can include doses of anxiolytics or narcotics to reduce symptoms of withdrawal. An experimental drug, ibogaine, is also suggested to treat withdrawal & craving. Other options to medical detoxification include acupuncture detoxification. In chronic opiate addiction, a surrogate drug such as methadone may be sometimes offered as a form of opiate replacement therapy. But treatment approaches universal focus on the individual's ultimate choice to pursue a different course of action. Therapists often categorize patients with chemical dependencies as either interested or not interested in changing. Treatments typically involve planning for specific ways to avoid the addictive stimulus & therapeutic interventions intended to help a client learn healthier ways to find satisfaction. Clinical leaders in recent years have tried to tailor intervention approaches to specific influences that affect addictive behavior, using therapeutic interviews in an effort to discover factors that led a person to embrace unhealthy, addictive sources of pleasure or relief from pain.


The most frequent drug addictions are to legal substances such as alcohol & nicotine, in the form of tobacco, particularly cigarettes.

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