not choice about Addiction illness life a lifestyle long

Addiction is really a major health problem that costs as much as other mental illnesses combined (about £40 billion per year) and about as much as cancer and cardiovascular disorders also.

At its core addiction is really a state of altered brain function that results in fundamental changes in behavior which are manifest by repeated use of alcohol and other drugs or doing activities such as gambling.  They are usually resisted, albeit unsuccessfully, by the addict.  The important thing features of addiction is therefore a situation of habitual behaviour such as for instance drug taking or gambling that's initially enjoyable but which eventually becomes self-sustaining or habitual. The urge to participate in the behaviour becomes so powerful that it disrupts normal life often to the point of overtaking work, personal relationships and family activities. At this point the person could be said to be addicted: the addict's every thought and action is directed with their addiction and anything else suffers.

If the addictive behaviour is not possible e.g. because they don't have enough money then feelings of intense distress emerge. These could cause dangerously impulsive and sometimes aggressive actions.  In case of drug/alcohol addiction the problem is compounded by the occurrence of withdrawal reactions which cause further distress and motivate desperate attempts to locate more of the addictive agent. This urge to obtain the drug may be so overpowering that addicts will commit seemingly random crimes to get the resources to purchase more drug. It's been estimated that about 70% of acquisitive crime is associated with drug and alcohol use.

Addiction is driven by a complicated set of internal and external factors.  The external factors are well understood:  the more usage of the specified drug or behaviour e.g. gambling the more addiction there is.

The inner factors are less clear. Although most addiction would be to alcohol and other drugs, addiction to gambling and other behaviours such as for example sex or shopping can occur. These reveal that the brain can develop hard-to-control urges independent of changing its chemistry with drugs.  All addictions share a common thread in that they are initially pleasurable activities, often extremely enjoyable. This results in these behaviours hijacking the brain's normal pleasure systems so that naturally enjoyable activities such as family life, work, exercise become devalued and the more excessive addiction behaviours take over.

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