Addictive Disorders and Dependence

Signs, Symptoms and Therapies

Signs & Symptoms

An individual may have an addictive disorder if there are signs of:

  • Chronic, daily use of a substance, such as alcohol, or compulsion to act on a behavior, such as shopping or exercise
  • Excessive spending
  • Neglect of daily responsibilities
  • Deterioration of relationships
  • Loss of control
  • Failed attempts to stop abusing a substance or engaging in the recurrent behavior
  • Withdrawal symptoms (including sweating, trembling, raised blood pressure)

Signs of physical dependency may include:

  • Tolerance of dosage and the increased desire for more
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon suddenly stopping a medication or drug

For more information, visit Mental Health America's factsheet about substance abuse:


Treatment plans for addictive disorders and substance abuse are tailored to an individual's needs and the intensity of the impulse.

Therapies may include:

  • One-on-one psychotherapy, including behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Group therapy including 12-step recovery programs
  • Drug therapy
  • Diet and nutritional modifications
  • Relaxation techniques, such as meditation, guided imagery or yoga
  • Detox, in-patient or out-patient hospitalization

Additionally, a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience finds that targeting dopamine (a feel-good chemical) production in the brain -- specifically decreasing it -- may help treat addiction.

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