life choice illness a lifestyle long about not Addiction

Addiction is a major health problem that costs around all the mental illnesses combined (about £40 billion per year) and about as much as cancer and cardiovascular disorders also.

At its core addiction is just a state of altered brain function that contributes to fundamental changes in behavior which can be manifest by repeated usage of alcohol or other drugs or participating in activities such as for instance gambling.  They are usually resisted, albeit unsuccessfully, by the addict.  The important thing options that come with addiction is therefore a situation of habitual behaviour such as for instance drug taking or gambling that's initially enjoyable but which eventually becomes self-sustaining or habitual. The urge to participate in the behaviour becomes so powerful that it interferes with normal life often to the stage of overtaking work, personal relationships and family activities. At this time the individual can be said to be addicted: the addict's every thought and action is directed with their addiction and anything else suffers.

If the addictive behaviour is extremely hard e.g. because they don't have sufficient money then feelings of intense distress emerge. These could result in dangerously impulsive and sometimes aggressive actions.  In case of drug/alcohol addiction the situation is compounded by the occurrence of withdrawal reactions which cause further distress and motivate desperate attempts to get more of the addictive agent. This urge to have the drug might be so overpowering that addicts will commit seemingly random crimes to get the resources to purchase more drug. It's been estimated that about 70% of acquisitive crime is connected with drug and alcohol use.

Addiction is driven by a sophisticated set of internal and external factors.  The external factors are well understood:  the more use of the specified drug or behaviour e.g. gambling the more addiction there is.

The interior factors are less clear. Although most addiction is to alcohol and other drugs, addiction to gambling and other behaviours such as for instance sex or shopping can occur. These inform us that the mind can develop hard-to-control urges independent of changing its chemistry with drugs.  All addictions share a typical thread in that they're initially pleasurable activities, often extremely enjoyable. This results in these behaviours hijacking the brain's normal pleasure systems so that naturally enjoyable activities such as for instance family life, work, exercise become devalued and the more excessive addiction behaviours take over.

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