Addiction is the physical or psychological dependence on a substance such as alcohol, heroin, cocaine, bhang, tobacco and others. The main effect of drug is to alter the normal functioning of the brain. There are several negative consequences connected with addiction. This normally be comes worse if the drug has been used for a long time and the victim is addicted to it. In the beginning, the victim may think that he or she is enjoying the pleasure associated with the drug. However, with continual use, one becomes addicted. Some one can also be addicted on things such as gambling, sex, computers, work, and exercise. Others include watching TV, non-pornographic videos, self-injury and shopping. The definition of addiction by psychologist is quite broad and tends to include all substances or activities that one can be addicted to.
The “American Society of Addiction Medicine” defines addiction as “the primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors” . Cannabis sativa, commonly called marijuana, is one of the most addictive substances in the world. Marijuana contains over 400 different compounds; the major compound in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol. The United Nations estimations show that over 160 million people use marijuana annually. The UN also estimates that over 20 million people addicted to the drug use the drug on daily basis. Other definitions for addiction include compulsive physiological or psychological desire for habit-forming activity or substance and a condition that causes habitual involvement in something.
Several interconnected factors can cause addiction. The main ones are drug chemistry, genetic factors, brain structure and function, social learning and availability. Drug chemistry deals with how the drug affects the body. Different drugs have different levels of addiction. One drug may be more addictive compared with another. This is because it may be producing a rapid change in mood or cause a withdrawal symptom when used. Genetic factor deals with the body chemistry. Some people are more vulnerable and may be addicted faster because their body chemistry causes an increase to sensitivity to drugs. This is because dependence ton such drugs run in their family. Experts say that this is a result of genetic predisposition or environmental influences. Brain structure and function is significantly altered by repeated use of drugs. Availability of cheap drugs such as tobacco and alcohol may also cause addiction.
The body adapts to some substance that is being used habitually such that it requires gradual increase in the amount being consumed. Despite the fact that the substance is used in increased amount, the effect produced remains the same. This means that the victim will be using the substance in even larger amounts with time. Addiction affects people differently. For instance, some people can smoke and never gets addicted while other people may smoke once and remain addicted. Addiction is known to affect people’s health, careers and families. Physical addiction occurs when one becomes dependant on a particular substance. For instance, one may become tolerant to a certain medication. After using the medication for treating a disease in the body over a long period, he may no longer be treating the disease but a physical addiction. If one is physically addicted, he may show the following signals. He may experience changes in sleeping habits. He may feel shaky when trying to stop using the medication. One may need to consume more of the medication but get the similar effect. Eating habits or sleeping habits may change. When one has these symptoms, he may also be said to be suffering from physical dependence. The addicted person may continue to use the medication in spite of these consequences to avoid associated symptoms such as withdrawal. Withdrawal is always a sure symptom for an addict who has ceased to use medication or drugs.
One of the main causes of addiction is stress. If someone is stressed, he or she may easily engage in addictive activities. When people experience pressure from the outside world, their response may lead to stress or rather emotional and physical strain. Stress is usual response to events that make people feel in danger. If someone recognizes a threat, the nervous system releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. A number of reactions may occur including increased heart pace, quickening of breaths, blood pressure may rise, muscles tighten and our senses become clearer and ready for action. These physical changes are the body’s way of protecting itself. The responses results in an increase in strength and stamina. Accelerating reaction time and enhances ones focus. Thus, they prepare someone to fight the impending danger or to flee from it. Many people do not understand these responses and may engage in an addictive activity or behavior to relax. This is because addictive activities or substances induce pleasure, which relieves distress. Since stress is normal in everyone’s life, people using a substance for relief of stress may soon be addicted to that substance. They may develop physical dependence and uncontrolled craving for the substance.
Psychological addiction is slightly difficult to understand because in analyzing it, one must study physical addiction. The craving that patients have is normally a combination of both physical and psychological factors. Both the body and the mind cause the craving. However, doctors agree that psychological addiction can exist as the only disorder in a patient. This means that it is not associated with physical dependence on drugs. Psychological addiction can also be a result of the relationship of a patient and objects or substances. This is called neuroadaptation. The brain has learned to need the object in question or the substance and the addiction are not caused by ingestion of a substance. The feeling that a patient gets from a certain activity or object causes emotional and mental gratification. Self-generated psychological factors that someone may never take time to test are several. People accept such factors due to certain conclusions that they have made based on the objects they observe or activities they involve in. These observation or activities are related to experiences that if not checked lead to addiction. Most of the times feelings generated by these activities or objects erode people’s ability to attain think logically. They feel that their beliefs are true since they are based on real objects. They feel this way with an assumption that the objects they choose are the real objects. This change creates overwhelming craving for the object or activity. An example of such addiction is gambling.
Regardless of the fact that there is no substance being used by the addict in psychological addiction, symptoms of withdrawal are common in them. Addicted gamblers, for instance will withdraw and remain alone if the decide to stop gambling. Even after stopping the actual gambling activity for a long period, the psychological craving remains. Substances such as Marijuana may be give addicts more of a psychological than physical addiction.
Treatment from addiction should be approached from two perspectives. Addicts should be treated using medical and social approaches. Those people who are addicted to drugs will need hospital treatment followed by psychotherapy. Psychotherapy can be specific on an individual or conducted in a group. There are certain anti-addiction medicines like Methadone or Naltrexone, which can also reduce addiction. New methods of treatment are continually developed to assist the rising number of addicts in the society. The recent development is the treatment of heroin addicts. This option allows the Doctor to visit his addiction patient in their working places instead of vice versa.
There are two commonly used motivational theories that addicts are taught to assist them in reducing their addiction. The first one is the X-Y theory, which was developed by McGregor in1960 and the second, is the Equity theory McGregor’s theory deals with how people are perceived, treated, and how such treatment influence their behavior. He divided people into two groups; one group includes people who have positive view of things, other people and even themselves. The other group is the exact opposite of the first one; it includes people with negative view of things. Be it the job that they are involved in, other people and themselves. This last group is the one that is likely to be addicted to substances.
McGregor postulated two sets of assumptions on human nature. People who have positive perception of everything they do use their natural abilities since they are motivated. On the other hand, people with negative attitudes need constant supervision. They are incompetent in most things they do. They always have a feeling that it would be better if they were somewhere else. They are not only self-centered and have no ambition. Their sole motivation comes from the substances or activities they are addicted to. McGregor thoroughly analyzed people’s behavior; his findings include the following. He found that the addicts might take advice from those in authority seriously. Many addicts are not at harmony with the society. However, they will obey the advice of people they hold in high esteem.