Addiction is a complex problem that affects not only the physical and mental health, but also the social environment. There are a lot of myths and a fair bit of uncertainty about what is going to happen next in addiction. A lot has been demystified about the nature of addictions, how they’re caused, what course they will follow and how best to treat them. For most people an addiction is, being unable to stop using a substance or a behaviour. Perhaps the best example is cigarette smoking. Smokers feel the compulsion to light up in an aeroplane or a restaurant, where it is not allowed. People may be dependent on substances in many different ways and to a variety of degrees of intensity. The most common is the presence of dysfunction when the substance is denied. Most addictions take time to develop and almost no one deliberately sets out to become addicted to a substance.

Following a first try, a person may go on to use the substance again, and perhaps  begin to use it on an occasional basis at first, then progress to use it on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the amount consumed may also begin to increase. The user is likely to increase the amount in leaps and bounds to achieve the same pleasure, which is now on the decline. The harm from a dependency on a drug can be measured in physical, psychological and social terms. In the extremes of serious addiction, the need for the substance becomes all-consuming, taking priority over work and relationships and disrupting the person’s ability to live a normal life. People can become overly addicted to gambling, sex, shopping, computer games – even using the internet. These non-drug addictive behaviours are similar to drug addiction in that the person has a lack of control over their behaviour.

Addiction has a domino effect on emotions, thoughts and behaviours.

What we feel and think in addiction remains subjective, however, it has an observable and measureable effect on the behaviours. It modifies perceptions and can significantly altar someone’s personality. Although substances such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin can directly interfere with the brain chemistry, but the experience of addiction itself is mind boggling. Addiction changes how a person thinks, feels and behaves forever. However, behavioral disruption varies hugely with the background of the person, his prior mental health, the kind of drug used and the ongoing circumstances. If you’re unemployed, homeless and physically unwell your psychological health is likely to suffer more. If the drug is alcohol, it is likely to cause irreversible brain damage. Furthermore, there are certain problems that most addicts suffer sooner or later. People look for treatment when these problems become severe. These problems can be related to feelings and thinking. In turn they are tied closely to addictive behaviours leading to a vicious cycle. For instance, an addicted person may avoid others, leading to a feeling of isolation. They may also feel ashamed of their addiction and inability to cope. To deal with these feelings, they take more of the drug. Their relationship with the drug excludes people, who avoid that person. The result is increased isolation. Families, friends and colleagues also experience jolts of the addiction and develop a love-hate relationship with the addicted person..

Feelings in addiction include shame, guilt and anxiety.

Feelings associated with addiction come from the feeling of powerlessness. Some feelings, such as shame and guilt, come from the behaviours that are at odds with your personal values and beliefs. Often the only way to cope with such feelings is to take more drugs. Other feelings come simply from the daily misery of being in the kind of mess that’s harming most, if not all, areas of your life.

People take drugs because they change mood, or feelings, in the short term. However, in the long run, they are trapped in the feelings they were trying to escape, such as: Depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, anger and boredom.

Thought patterns are designed to protect addiction.

Addicts focus on drugs exclusively. Many of the thought patterns in addiction are designed to protect the addiction. Some are responses to the stress of the lifestyle of addiction. Some are the results of the damage done by a drug’s chemistry. They remain in denial and start believing that others are responsible for fixing them.

Anyone can be sacrificed because the drug comes first.

Addicts have self defeating behaviours that reflect the consuming relationship with the drug of choice. Addicts often postpone positive change. They can deceive themselves and others to keep ahead of the consequences.  In many instances, behaviour is simply about avoiding the discomfort of withdrawal.  Typical behaviours include avoidance of responsibilities, manipulation and violence. Anyone can be sacrificed because the drug comes first. There is also the possibility of deliberate self harm.