Addiction is one of the toughest problems facing our culture today. The growing problems within the family, as well as many other cultural stressors, make addiction a problem that has grown by leaps and bounds.

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 is a primary, progressive, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. it is characterized by impaired control over use of the substance, preoccupation with the substance, use of the substance despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking.

Contrary to some popular thought, people don’t become addicted to drugs, alcohol, or sex just for the fun of it. A person is drawn to an addictive behavior or substance because of the way it affects his or her emotions. It enhances some feelings and numbs out others. Emotional pain is reduced momentarily…and the hope is that it will not come back. of course, it does. Tolerance means that over time more and more of the behavior or substance is required to produce the desired effect. More drugs is required to numb out feelings, or get the heightened sense of excitement and competence.

Withdrawal means that an individual has a very painful physical and/or emotional reaction when the substance or behavior is stopped. Withdrawal happens in two phases: acute withdrawal and post-acute withdrawal. Acute withdrawal occurs within hours and days of the cessation of use. Post acute withdrawal can last two years or more. It also has emotional and physiological aspects that are very difficult to endure.

Addiction starts with a genetic proclivity and often a long “incubation” period starting with using a substance off and on for years, with no noticeable deleterious effects. Until there is noticeable impaired functioning, there is often no recognition of the disease. As the substance use becomes excessive and compulsive it turns to substance abuse, impairing normal functioning often leading to usually non violent criminal acts and alienating close friends and family.

Addiction definitely affects us on a biological level. it affects just about every major system within our body, and can also alter our physical activity level. we’re definitely affected on a psychological level. it is becoming generally accepted that the majority of people with addiction have another co- occurring mental health diagnosis. Addiction affects us socially in many ways. I believe that addiction is a disease of isolation, and that in order to continue using; we break more and more family, friendship, and social ties. Unfortunately, addiction affects us on a spiritual level as well

Defenses are normal. Everyone has them and uses them, but addicts use them to maintain addictive behaviors and thoughts. The most famous such defense is denial: the inability to recognize a problem in the face of compelling evidence. Another favorite is rationalization; developing excuses for problems caused by drug use. Then there is externalization; transferring responsibility for our behavior to other people. Refusing to admit the magnitude of the amount used is minimization.

Medication, counseling and behavioral therapy, especially when combined, are important elements of an overall therapeutic process that often begins with detoxification, followed by treatment and relapse prevention.