Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disorder characterized by compulsive seeking, continued use despite harmful consequences, and long-lasting changes in the brain. It is considered both a complex brain disorder and a mental illness. Addictions can include, but are not limited to, drug abuse, alcohol dependence, and behavioral addictions such as gambling, pornography, and excessive use of phones or the internet.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), substance use disorders (which cover drugs and alcohol) are characterized by criteria including failing obligations, risky use, impaired control, tolerance, and withdrawal. On the other hand, gambling disorder is the only behavioral addiction officially recognized in the DSM-5, characterized by persistent and recurrent problematic gambling behavior.
Even though internet, phone, and pornography addictions are not officially recognized in the DSM-5 or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as standalone disorders, excessive and compulsive use of these can lead to significant impairment or distress, much like other recognized addictions.
• If you or a loved one can't stop using the substance or engaging in the behavior, despite wanting to and trying to quit.
• When continued use or behavior leads to issues at work, school, or in personal relationships.
• If engaging in the behavior or using the substance takes up a lot of time and energy, often at the expense of other activities.
• When you experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit or cut down.
• If you find yourself needing more of the substance or more intense behavior to get the same effect.
Remember, addictions are not a sign of weakness or a moral failing, they are complex conditions that can be effectively managed with the right help.
As psychologists, we can provide evidence-based interventions to help individuals overcome addiction. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help you understand the triggers and develop healthier coping mechanisms, motivational interviewing to strengthen your motivation for change, and mindfulness-based relapse prevention to help you deal with cravings and potential relapse.
Family therapy may also be beneficial, addressing the familial and social factors that often contribute to addiction. Medication-assisted treatment may be appropriate for some types of addiction, such as alcohol and opioid addiction.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, don't hesitate to reach out. Our team of compassionate, experienced psychologists is here to support you through your journey towards recovery. Contact us today, and take the first step towards reclaiming your life.