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What is Addiction?

Updated: Jan 27

What is Addiction?

We consider addiction as an illness, just as cancer and heart disease is an illness. But for the addicts, this disease brings immense judgment, not sympathy. It is not a moral failing and one assumes a person shows weakness or entertains a bad habit. This is where the stigma comes from.

People from all backgrounds can become addicted. Poor or rich, educated or not. Local statistics have shown addiction is prone in urban areas. Becoming an addict can happen to anyone regardless of your race, age or gender. This disease does not discriminate.

No one plans on becoming addicted. However, after experiencing desired effects, a substance use disorder can become apparent as the amount of use starts increasing. Most addicts believe they can control their use.

However, the brain chemistry changes after continuous use in a way that disrupts the normal function of a person’s decision-making process, inhibitions and risk vs. reward analysis.

There is no timeline attached to becoming an addict and some people may reason that the substance they are using is not that severe.

Ultimately addiction is a behaviour that controls you, taking centre stage over your better judgement or reasoned decisions. For some people with severe addictions, taking drugs can become more important than the need to eat or sleep.

The urge to get and use the drug can fill every moment of a person's life. Addiction can replace all the things the person used to enjoy. Some people who are addicted may do almost anything—lying, stealing—to keep using the substance.

Many people don't understand why or how other people become addicted to drugs. They may mistakenly think that those who use drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that they could stop their drug use simply by choosing to. In reality, drug addiction is a complex disease, and quitting usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will.

Understanding Addiction: A Comprehensive Overview

Addiction refers to a complex condition characterized by compulsive engagement in a behaviour or substance use despite negative consequences. It is often associated with a loss of control, cravings, and persistent use or engagement despite knowing the harmful effects.

Addiction can manifest in various forms, including substance addiction (such as drugs or alcohol) and behavioural addiction (such as gambling, gaming, or compulsive eating). The key elements of addiction include:

  1. Compulsion: The individual feels a strong, uncontrollable urge to engage in the behaviour or use the substance.

  2. Loss of Control: Despite attempts to cut back or stop, the person struggles to control their behaviour.

  3. Continued Use or Behavior: The individual persists in the behaviour or substance use, even when it leads to negative consequences like health problems, relationship issues, or legal troubles.

  4. Craving: Intense desires or cravings for the substance or behaviour often accompany addiction.

  5. Negative Consequences: Addiction typically results in negative consequences for the individual's physical health, mental well-being, relationships, and overall functioning.

Biological, psychological, and environmental factors contribute to the development of addiction. Genetic predisposition, brain chemistry, and exposure to stress or trauma can play significant roles. Additionally, certain substances have the potential to be physically addictive, leading to physiological dependence.

Addiction treatment often involves a combination of behavioural therapies, counselling, support groups, and, in some cases, medications. It's essential to approach addiction as a medical and psychological condition that requires comprehensive and individualized care.

Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don't?

No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences the risk of addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction. For example:

  • Biology. The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person's risk of addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence the risk of drug use and addiction.

  • Environment. A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.

  • Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction.

If you think someone you love may be an addict, please read more on how to approach someone in addiction. Everyone deserves a chance to re-discover their purpose in life and be the best person they can be in life.

Contact us today or visit our site for more information on our programme.


Delve into the understanding of addiction as a complex illness, shedding light on its impact across diverse lives. Challenge stigmas and misconceptions, acknowledging it as a disease, not a moral failing. Uncover the intricate factors influencing addiction, from genetic predispositions to environmental and developmental influences. Learn why addiction isn't merely a matter of willpower. Gain insights on approaching someone in addiction with compassion. Everyone deserves a chance for a purposeful life. Contact us to explore our comprehensive program and start the journey to recovery.

Addiction as an Illness

Overview: Addiction is an illness deserving sympathy, akin to cancer or heart disease, but it often faces judgment and stigma.

Elaboration: Despite being recognized as a disease, addiction often carries judgment rather than sympathy. The stigma arises from misconceptions that it's a moral failing or a result of weakness, creating a barrier for individuals seeking understanding and support.

Universal Impact of Addiction

Unplanned Nature of Addiction

Behavioural Control and Priority Shifts

Understanding Addiction: A Comprehensive Overview

Factors Influencing Addiction Risk

Understanding addiction as an illness, acknowledging its universal impact, recognizing its unplanned nature, comprehending the behavioural control it exerts, and considering the multifaceted factors influencing addiction risk are crucial steps in fostering empathy and effective interventions. Addiction demands a shift in perspective—from judgment to support and from stigma to understanding. For more information on addressing addiction or seeking help, contact PRC Recovery.



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