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The Definition of Addiction

woman sitting on bench at turning point of tampa addiction treatment center campus

The topic of addiction is one that is often misunderstood not only by the general public, but by the addicted person, their family, and even some medical and psychological professionals. Read on to learn what defines an addiction, and ways to find help.

Short Definition of Addiction

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by an inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

Addiction vs. Habitual Behaviors

Despite its clinical definition, the term “addiction” is often used to describe other habits or non-addictive behaviors. Often, it is used to describe a situation where a substance is repeatedly being used; for example, when a person uses over-the-counter sleep medication each night to doze off quicker. These types of habits can have addictive qualities, but don’t necessarily mean an addiction is present.

Redefining Your Life

The term “addiction” doesn’t have to define you. There is help.

For the past 32 years, the professionals at Turning Point of Tampa have made it their life’s work to provide treatment options to those suffering from addiction. Individuals suffering from alcohol addiction, food addictions and drug addictions can find the tools they need to redefine their lives.

Understanding what addiction means is an important first step in recognizing whether an addiction may be present. Addiction is more than just a definition though, and there is much more to learn about this disease. Stay tuned for our next article in this three-part series describing the diagnostic criteria for drug addiction.

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, contact Turning Point of Tampa today.

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