What Is Addiction?

Learn what addiction is from Dr. Paul Hokemeyer in this Howcast video.

Transcript

There are basically three essential parts of an addiction. Addictions are chronic, they're progressive, and they're fatal. The chronic element has to do with the fact that they persist if people are not intervened upon, or action taken to solve the problem of the addiction.

The progressive part speaks to the fact that addictions get worse over time. And the fatal aspect refers to the fact that if they're not treated, they can be fatal. There can be a couple kinds of fatalities. There can be fatalities to the person's physical life. There can be fatalities to the person's emotional life. There can be fatalities to the person's financial life and there can be be personal fatalities as well.

I also need to point out that there are two elements of addictions. There's this element of tolerance, which means that you need more and more of the substance or the behavior to get the same baseline level of satisfaction. And there's also a sense of withdrawal, so that when you don't have access to the addiction, when you're not engaging in the addictive behavior, or you're not ingesting the addictive substance, you experience physical and psychological distress. The physical distress can come in the form of a physical withdrawal where you feel ill and you have diarrhea and you're vomiting. So there's a real physical element to it.

The emotional withdrawal means that you have an enormous amount of anxiety because you don't have access to the drug or the addictive behavior. The second element of that is this sense of tolerance where you need more and more of the drug.

Again, I want to just emphasize that addictions are chronic, progressive and fatal and that there's an element of tolerance and withdrawal.

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