Historically, addiction has been defined as physical and psychological dependence on psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco, heroin, caffeine and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.
Addiction can also be viewed as a continued involvement with a substance or activity despite the negative consequences associated with it. Pleasure, enjoyment or relief from actual or perceived ailments would have originally been sought; however, over a period of time involvement with the substance or activity is needed to feel normal. Some psychology professionals and many laypeople now mean 'addiction' to include abnormal psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, internet, work, exercise, idolizing, watching TV or certain types of non-pornographic videos, spiritual obsession, self-injury and shopping.
Drug addiction can simply be defined as a "chronic relapsing disorder characterized by persistent drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviours".
Drug addiction is chronic, with no known cure. Controlled may be by means such as voluntary 12 step programs, group therapy, one on one therapy, and mandatory methadone maintenance. Treatment programs can be successful in treating the addiction. Without treatment, active drug addicts often end up dead, incarcerated, or in institutions.
The American Psychiatric Association's current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) defines substance dependence as:
- "When an individual persists in use of alcohol or other drugs despite problems related to use of the substance, substance dependence may be diagnosed. Compulsive and repetitive use may result in tolerance to the effect of the drug and withdrawal symptoms when use is reduced or stopped. This, along with Substance Abuse are considered Substance Use Disorders...." 
Substance dependence can be diagnosed with physiological dependence, evidence of tolerance or withdrawal, or without physiological dependence.
DSM-IV substance dependencies:
- 303.90 Alcohol dependence
- 304.00 Opioid dependence
- 304.10 Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic dependence (including benzodiazepine dependence and barbiturate dependence)
- 304.20 Cocaine dependence
- 304.30 Cannabis dependence
- 304.40 Amphetamine dependence (or amphetamine-like)
- 304.50 Hallucinogen dependence
- 304.60 Inhalant dependence
- 304.80 Polysubstance dependence
- 304.90 Phencyclidine (or phencyclidine-like) dependence
- 304.90 Other (or unknown) substance dependence
- 305.10 Nicotine dependence
The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as compulsive shopping, sex addiction/compulsive sex, overeating, problem gambling, exercise/sport and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user themselves to their individual health, mental state, or social life. There may be biological and psychological factors contributing to these addictions.
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- ^ Beck, D.A. (2007). "Psychiatric Disorders due to General Medical Conditions" (PDF). Department of Psychiatry, University of Missouri-Columbia. Archived from the original on 2008-04-14. http://web.archive.org/web/20080414121814/http://www.umcpsychiatry.com/medstudents/Psychiatryic+Disorder+Due+to+General+Medical+Conditions-Outline.pdf. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
- ^ (August 16, 2011). Addiction is a brain disease, experts declare Los Angeles Times Accessed August 26, 2011.
- ^ The Definition of Addiction American Society of Addiction Medicine. Accessed August 26, 2011.
- ^ Feltenstein MW, See RE (2008 May). "The neurocircuitry of addiction: an overview". Br J Pharmacol 154 (2): 261–74. doi:10.1038/bjp.2008.51. PMC 2442446. PMID 18311189. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=2442446.
- ^ DSM-IV & DSM-IV-TR:Substance Dependence
- ^ Pargman, David; Burgess, Sharon (1977). "Hooked on Exercise: A Psycho-Biological Explanation". 1977 Annual Meeting of North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity. OCLC 425154924
- Lemonick, Michael D (July 16, 2007). "How We Get Addicted". Time 170 (3). http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1640436,00.html. Retrieved 7 September 2010 Cover July 16, 2007 (note: cover provided to clarify date discrepancy from article link)
- Martin, Paul (2008). Sex, Drugs & Chocolate: The Science of Pleasure. London: Fourth Estate. ISBN 978-0-00-712708-5.
- Nash-Alice, Madeleine J (May 5, 1997). "Addicted: Why do people get hooked?". Time (18): 52–58. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,986282,00.html. [dubious ]
- Weill, Andrew & Rosen, Winifred (2004). From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything you need to know about mind-altering drugs. Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-48379-9. http://books.google.com/?id=p6zyPxi4PYoC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22chocolate+to+morphine%22&q. Retrieved 07 September 2010. [dubious ]
- Addiction, Rehabilitation and Recovery Article Topics. Addiction Search. 2011. http://www.addictionsearch.com/addiction-topics/browse/.
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