WHAT IS ADDICTIVE BEHAVIOR?
Addictive behaviours are characterized by their ability to produce immediate gratification or relief from discomfort. Because of this, it is easy for them to end up generating an addiction, that is, a pattern of maladaptive behaviour, which leads to a general deterioration of the person.
Under the generic name of addictions or addictive behaviours, we find a group of disorders with a pattern of repetitive consumption, which lead to a loss of control of the individual, giving rise to medical, social, and psychological problems, and this is where the first key points to define them appear, namely the loss of control and the pattern of repetitive consumption.
It is necessary to have a period of continuous use and that this occurs despite the damage it causes
Although most experiences are based on substance use disorders, more and more conditions are being defined as psychological addictions in which there is no substance use, such as compulsive gambling, sexual addiction, shopping, work or internet addiction, activities that meet the conditions to be classified as addictive behaviours. Therefore, many therapists classify them as addictions, with or without substance use.
WHEN CAN A BEHAVIOR BE CONSIDERED ADDICTIVE?
Addictions begin as pleasant behaviours, but later, within a variable time period for each of them, they enslave the subject, who feels obliged to repeat them, despite the discomfort they cause.
We speak of dependence when the addictive behaviour or substance involves an absolute dependence of the subject. The person gradually reduces his or her range of interests and obligations, so that the addictive behaviour ends up monopolizing his or her life. The definition of addiction implies a loss of freedom, which is why it is pernicious.
THERE ARE SIX CLEAR INDICATORS OF ADDICTION
Object of desire
There is always an object of desire. This is the substance, activity or relationship that leads to the addiction, whether it is alcohol, food, sex, gambling, pornography, the Internet, drugs or anything else that triggers obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour.
There is an obsession with the object of desire, a need for the activity or substance that causes the addiction.
There is a compulsion to reduce anxiety and satisfy the obsession that triggers the addictive behaviour.
Lack of control
Addiction always involves a loss of control over thoughts, feelings, ideas, or behaviours when the desired thing appears. Even when an addicted person tries to stop or cut off their addictive behaviours, they are unable to do so. This is the key and central characteristic of addiction and dependency.
There is a dependency on the object of desire, physical or psychological, and only this thing can satisfy the addict’s desire (at least temporarily).
Addiction is always accompanied by negative consequences. One of the most common consequences is depression. The addict’s greatest desire is to achieve the desired happiness and when they see that this is not possible with the desired substance or activity, gradually they can enter into a depression which in turn they try to overcome by increasing their consumption.
THE MAIN SYMPTOMS OF ADDICTION
Loss of control over the addicted person’s life due to the legal or illegal substance or addictive behaviour.
Persistence in using despite negative or adverse consequences (loss of a job, car accidents, fights, and assaults, sometimes even loss of custody of a child, legal problems, etc.)
Manipulation of the addict’s entire circle of friends and family because of this compelling need to use, which for the addict is necessary and cannot be controlled.
Self-deception, when the addict who wants to stop using drugs and promises that he or she will never use again, really believes it, although without effective treatment and willpower, it is impossible. Similarly, the false belief of controlled consumption, the addict thinks and believes that he/she is in control.
Denial of the problem, the addict minimizes the disasters of their consumption, “I don’t have a problem, I drink or consume normally”.
It is not necessary that the ill person drinks first thing in the morning or every day to be addicted to alcohol, other drugs, or behaviours.
“THE ADDICT DOESN’T USE BECAUSE HE OR SHE HAS PROBLEMS, THEY HAVE PROBLEMS BECAUSE THEY USE”
Addiction is a primary and chronic disease which development and manifestations are influenced by genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic episodes of: lack of control over use, use despite harmful consequences, and distortions of thinking, especially denial.
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