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.[1] 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.[2][3][4][5]

The American Society of Addiction Medicine begins their definition of addiction by describing it as "a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry."[6][7]


Drug addiction

Drug addiction can simply be defined as a "chronic relapsing disorder characterized by persistent drug-seeking and drug-taking behaviours".[8]

Drug addiction is chronic, with no known cure.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Substance dependence

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...." [9]

Substance dependence can be diagnosed with physiological dependence, evidence of tolerance or withdrawal, or without physiological dependence.

DSM-IV substance dependencies:

Behavioral addiction

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.[10]

See also


  1. ^ Jean Morrissey; Jenm; Brian Keogh; Louise Doyle (2008). Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. Dekker. p. 289. ISBN 978-0-7171-4459-4. 
  2. ^ Taylor, C.Z. (March 2002). "Religious Addiction: Obsession with Spirituality". Pastoral Psychology (Springer Netherlands) 50 (4): 291–315. doi:10.1023/A:1014074130084. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  3. ^ "Depression". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  4. ^ Nowack, W.J. (2006-08-29). "Psychiatric Disorders Associated With Epilepsy". eMedicine Specialities. WebMD. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  5. ^ 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. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  6. ^ (August 16, 2011). Addiction is a brain disease, experts declare Los Angeles Times Accessed August 26, 2011.
  7. ^ The Definition of Addiction American Society of Addiction Medicine. Accessed August 26, 2011.
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ DSM-IV & DSM-IV-TR:Substance Dependence
  10. ^ 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 

Further reading

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • addiction — [ adiksjɔ̃ ] n. f. • 1979; mot angl., du bas lat. addictus « adonné à » ♦ Anglic. Conduite de dépendance (à une substance, une activité) qui a de graves conséquences sur la santé. « l impact de toute addiction (alcool, drogue, boulimie, sexe) sur …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Addiction — Ad*dic tion, n. [Cf. L. addictio an adjudging.] The state of being addicted; devotion; inclination. His addiction was to courses vain. Shak. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • addiction — ad·dic·tion /ə dik shən/ n: compulsive physiological need for a habit forming drug (as heroin) Merriam Webster’s Dictionary of Law. Merriam Webster. 1996. addiction …   Law dictionary

  • addiction — (n.) c.1600, tendency, of habits, pursuits, etc.; 1640s as state of being self addicted, from L. addictionem (nom. addictio) an awarding, a devoting, noun of action from pp. stem of addicere (see ADDICT (Cf. addict)). Earliest sense was less… …   Etymology dictionary

  • addiction — [n] a habit of activity, often injurious bag*, bent, craving, dependence, enslavement, fixation, hang up*, hook, inclination, jones*, kick*, monkey*, monkey on back*, obsession, shot*, sweet tooth*, thing*; concepts 20,316,709 …   New thesaurus

  • addiction — ► NOUN ▪ the fact or condition of being addicted. DERIVATIVES addictive adjective …   English terms dictionary

  • addiction — [ə dik′shən] n. the condition of being addicted (to a habit) or of being an addict; specif., the habitual use of narcotic drugs …   English World dictionary

  • Addiction — Classification internationale des maladies CIM 10 : F1x.2 (Dépendance à la drogue) La dépendance est, au sens phénoménologique, une conduite qui repose sur une envie répétée et irrépressible, en dépit de la motivation et des efforts du sujet pour …   Wikipédia en Français

  • addiction */ — UK [əˈdɪkʃ(ə)n] / US noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms addiction : singular addiction plural addictions 1) a strong need that someone feels to regularly take an illegal or harmful drug There is a growing problem of drug addiction in our… …   English dictionary

  • addiction — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ alcohol, cocaine, drug, etc. VERB + ADDICTION ▪ become, turn into ▪ A habit can easily become an addiction …   Collocations dictionary