Addictions: understanding them, preventing them, treating them

Addictions

My first one is how I like my swimming pools.

My second is the opposite of ‘start’.

My third is a sport for two people with music.

My fourth is a vowel.

My all is characterised by a strong desire to consume or to do an activity.

Olà, this is Dr Joy! So did you figure it out?

In this new article, we will discuss dependency (answers: deep, end, dance, E) and more specifically addictions. Whether they are due to a product or a behaviour, addictions have significant consequences on individuals.

Vamos!

Understanding addiction

Addiction is a real disease. It is due to the repeated consumption of a substance (tobacco, alcohol, drugs…) or the abnormally excessive practice of a behaviour (gambling, social media…).

It is a brain disease caused by addiction that has consequences for the person’s health and well-being.

An addiction is characterised by a strong, even compulsive, desire to consume substances or engage in certain activities. This consumption or behaviour leads to a progressive disengagement in other activities.There are many risk factors.

No one is immune from experiencing a phase of addiction during their life. Indeed, age, psychological health and self-confidence vary over the course of one’s life and can push an individual towards addictive behaviour.

However, there are other factors that put some people at greater risk than others.

Neurobiological factors, for example. The activity of the neurotransmitters that regulate our functioning and behaviour differs from one individual to another. This means that some people are more vulnerable to the risk of addiction.

This is why one person may only smoke one cigarette a week, while another cannot do without a pack a day.

There are also environmental factors: a person who grew up in a smoking household has easier access to tobacco and is therefore more likely to take up smoking.

One may wonder whether addictions are hereditary, but it is more a case of imitation that creates addictions from father to son.

Not just drug addiction

The best known addictions are those linked to substances. But there are many others…

  • Addiction to substances
    There are addictions linked to the consumption of psychoactive substances, such as:
  1. Tobacco and alcohol, which are the most common
  2. Cannabis
  3. Opiates (heroin, morphine)
  4. Cocaine
  5. Certain drugs (e.g. amphetamines)
  6. etc.

Among young people, the consumption of some substances, like that of nitrous oxide, which found in whipped cream syphons, is developing. To date, it is not considered addictive, but it is dangerous.

The use of these substances has an immediate effect on perceptions, mood and behaviour. The degree varies, and the risk of dependence can be more or less rapid and more or less severe. It also depends on the individual.

  • Behavioural addictions
    There are also “non-substance addictions” or so-called behavioural addictions. This means that they are due to an irrepressible and uncontrolled behaviour.

These can be due to:

  1. Gambling
  2. Video games
  3. Cyber-addiction, social media
  4. Sex
  5. Physical exercise
  6. Compulsive shopping

Eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia) can also be considered as behavioural addictions.

They should be taken as seriously as substance addictions, especially as it is difficult to quantify them and to know when to call them addictions.

Manifestation and impact of an addiction

Of course, addictions have a greater or lesser impact. In general, they lead to:

  • Loss of control over the level of use/ practice
  • Changes in emotional balance
  • Medical problems
  • Disruption of personal, professional and social life

The first manifestations observed are related to the type of addiction and substances and are immediate. This may be manifested by euphoria, loss of control, reduction of stress, or disinhibition.

In some cases, there may be an immediate life-threatening risk due to excessive use, leading to an overdose or an ethylic coma.

The second consequence is behavioural and this will impact people’s daily lives. It can have detrimental repercussions on family life, relationships and work.

There is a significant risk of gradual isolation, marginalisation, stigmatisation, loss of employment or dropping out of school among teenagers…

In the long term, they have a psychological and psychiatric impact: changes in character (impulsivity, memory problems, attention problems, etc.) and mood disorders (particularly anxiety).

Complications may also arise:

  • Cardiovascular or cancer risk with tobacco
  • Cognitive or tumour risk with alcohol
  • Neurological and psychiatric disorders in regular users of many illicit drugs
  • etc.

How to stop an addiction?

For an addict, becoming aware of it is already a big step. Support from a health professional is often essential.

Indeed, it is a multidisciplinary treatment, as it requires the combination of a drug treatment, but also individual and/or collective psychological care and social support.

To do this, you can first talk to your GP, who can then direct you to the appropriate professionals.

It is a process that often takes a long time. The patient’s motivation to quit their addiction is essential.

It is also important to support them in improving their living conditions and self-esteem: finding a job, carrying out activities, having interests, etc.

Some less severe addictions can however be treated with alternative medicine. This can be the case, for example, with tobacco addiction. Many people are able to overcome their addiction through hypnosis  or acupuncture for example.

To find out more about hypnosis and how it can help you with your addiction, you can contact the Alegria Medical Centre.

So there you have it, you know all about addictions.

If you have an addict in your life, it is first of all important to be there for them.

Beijinhos,

Dr Joy!

Sources:

  1. INSERM — Dossier Addictions
  2. Ameli.fr — Addictions : définition et facteurs favorisants
  3. Fédération Addiction

This information is not a substitute for medical advice. 

You must seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health condition.

 

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