What is Addiction?

There are 4 types of addiction: substance, process, systemic, and codependency – All of which affect the brain and behavior. Within the field of substance addiction, scientific and medical communities define it as a mental illness characterized by compulsory use of a substance despite adverse consequences. The disease of addiction is highlighted by a desire for stimuli regardless of the harmful effects. When a drink or a substance is misused for a period of time, its pleasurable effect(s) can cause dependency. 

Chemical dependency begins when a normal state (homeostasis) cannot occur without ingesting a substance. Alcohol and drugs produce a rush of dopamine that stimulates the brain’s reward system. This makes it difficult to find pleasure without consuming more alcohol or substance, thus reinforcing the compulsion to drink or use. A chemically-dependent brain struggles to produce dopamine the way a non-dependent brain would when basic necessities are met. In active addiction, the brain physically cannot “get excited” with usual stimuli.  

If you have any questions about whether you or a loved one may be struggling with addiction, please fill out the form below to connect with a representative.