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An addiction is a behaviour or substance that a person repeatedly and compulsively engages with despite it potentially being harmful to them. When a person is addicted to something they will be unable to control how they use it and may become dependent on it to cope with everyday life.

The most common type of addiction is a substance use disorder (SUD). This is where a person relies on a substance such as alcohol or drugs and experiences strong withdrawal symptoms if they do not take the substance. Typically someone with a substance use disorder will build up a tolerance to the substance over time resulting in the need to take more, more often in order to get the same effect as when they started taking the substance.

Types of Addiction

There are two main types of addiction:

Signs and Symptoms of Addiction

Whilst not every person will experience all symptoms, it is common to experience at least some of these symptoms if you have an addiction:

Withdrawal symptoms are common when a person stops engaging in an addictive behaviour or taking an addictive substance. Being able to identify withdrawal can help to recognise addiction. Common withdrawal symptoms include:

Withdrawal symptoms can last for a few days or weeks depending on the type and severity of the addiction.

Causes of Addiction

A variety of different things can affect the development of an addiction. Often there is not just one thing that causes an addiction. Some factors that can result in a person developing and sustaining an addiction include:

Diagnosis of Addiction

The diagnosis of addiction is still a developing medical field with more research and information available for substance use disorders than other forms of addiction. Despite this most common types of addiction have some sort of standardised tool or measure used by doctors and other medical health professionals to identify addiction and quantify it’s severity in terms of the effects of the addiction on a person’s life. For example the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST), the CRAFFT Screening Tool and the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) are all tools used in Australia in the diagnosis of addiction.

A lot of these tools use similar measures and in general to diagnose an addiction a doctor will typically ask about the behaviours of the addiction including the frequency and duration of the addictive behaviour, when the addiction started and any other relevant factors such as where you or your family have any history of addiction or other mental health disorders.

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Treating Addiction

The first step of treating an addiction is deciding to make a change. Quitting an addiction can be hard work and requires commitment when faced with withdrawal symptoms. The next step is seeking support – quitting an addiction is much easier when you have both professional and personal support. A doctor, psychologist or counsellor can help refer you to treatment services while a friend or family member can help limit stress and the effect of other withdrawal symptoms as you recover. The last step is to get treatment as required. 

Common treatments and services for overcoming addiction include:

Some other strategies you can use to help yourself overcome addiction include

Recovering from an addiction takes time and support. If you think you might be suffering from an addiction or are in need of a mental health professional to help in your treatment give us a call at Inner Psych. Our professionals can provide a comprehensive online assessment of your condition and personalize an ongoing treatment to help you take back control of your life.

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