What are addictions?

Addictions are compulsions (irresistible urges) to use and abuse things excessively, until they become destructive. These compulsions are very powerful and produce a life-threatening process that can go on indefinitely and can end in disability or death for the sufferer, and cause pain and suffering for loved ones.

Addictions can cause major life problems, such as:

  • Loss of a job and financial trouble;
  • Making negative personality traits even worse;
  • Loss of other interests;
  • Relapsing over and over, possibly ending in death.

These behaviors are often shaped by genetics and the person’s family. Addiction’s problems include loss of control, unpredictability, and unwanted consequences, as well as psychological and physical destruction.

Who can become addicted?

Addiction is the most common public mental health problem in the United States. Nearly anyone can become addicted; approximately 22 percent of the general population in the United States can expect to have a significant problem with substance misuse or abuse at some point in their lives.

What are the most common signs and symptoms of addiction?

  • Family complaints, leading to alienation and eventually divorce
  • Work problems, including absenteeism, loss of interest in work, job loss
  • Financial problems, unpaid bills, and bankruptcy
  • Personality changes
  • Physical weakening

Which addictions are the most common?

People can become addicted to:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Sex
  • Food
  • Gambling

What are the most commonly used addictive drugs?

Commonly used addictive drugs include:

  • Alcohol
  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Tranquilizers (Valium-type, Xanax)
  • Sleeping pills
  • Pain medications (opiate-like)
  • Cough medicines (codeine)
  • Hallucinogens (PCP, LSD)
  • Stimulants (diet pills, amphetamines)

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