What is addiction?

Definitions of Addiction

  • A disease that includes alcohol and drug cravings and continued drinking and drug use despite repeated alcohol and drug-related problems, such as losing a job or getting into trouble with the law. Symptoms include craving, impaired control, physical dependence and increased tolerance.
  • A chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol and drugs, repeated excessive use of alcohol and drugs, development of withdrawal symptoms on reducing or ceasing alcohol or drugs, morbidity that may include cirrhosis of the liver, and decreased ability to function socially and vocationally. Currently believed by many to be a disease with strong genetic links.
  • Continued excessive or compulsive use of alcohol or drugs; a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal, psychological and nutritional disorder associated with excessive and compulsive use characterized by frequent intoxication leading to dependence on or addiction to the substance, impairment of the ability to work and socialize, destructive behaviors, tissue or organ damage, and severe withdrawal symptoms upon detoxification.
  • A primary chronic disease influenced by genetic predisposition, psycho-social, environmental and cultural factors. The alcoholic or addict who chooses to drink or use does so because of a complex interaction between these factors.

Prognosis & Complications

  • Mental confusion, delirium or amnesia
  • Vomiting and ulcers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Infections
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis
  • High blood pressure and heart disease
  • Malnutrition
  • Liver disease, fatty liver or cirrhosis
  • Brain and nerve damage — changes the emotion, decision, muscle, breathing and heartbeat-controlling centers of the brain
  • Linked to numerous types of cancer
  • Heart disease
  • During pregnancy, it's linked to lower birth weights, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), poor growth, delays in development, altered facial structure, other birth defects and addicted babies