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Addiction - General
Addiction is a complex illness that can have associated physical, emotional and psychological symptoms, affecting the patient, their family, friends and co-workers. The general term ‘Addiction’ can encompass a wide variety of disorders and illnesses, from addictions like Alcoholism and Drug Addiction to Nicotine Addiction, and the lesser-known addictions like Sexual Addiction, addiction to foods or specific activities like Gambling Addiction. Patients can be addicted to chocolate, computer games and the internet. These addictions may not be substance-based but they are nonetheless disruptive to a person’s life. While the popular belief may be simply that a person with an addiction has an unhealthy habit the medical research community has specific diagnostic criteria for addictive behavior and doctors know that these addictions are serious disorders that can affect health, lifestyle and relationships. It is important to understand that addiction is different than a mere fondness for, or love of a certain food or substance. A person may love wine or chocolate but they are not considered an addict unless their need for the substance or activity is so strong that it consumes their thoughts and takes them away from other normal social and life pursuits. For more detailed information on a specific addictive disorder, please refer to the associated article on that topic.
What are the symptoms?
Every addiction has a specific set of symptoms related to the effects the substance or activity may have on the body or mind. The common addiction symptoms for most substances and/or activities to which a patient may be addicted are as follows:
How is it diagnosed and treated?
The diagnosis and treatment of addictions will vary, depending on the type of addiction and the consequences – whether to health, or emotional or mental well-being. For more detailed information about the diagnosis and treatment of specific addictions, refer to the related article on the specific addiction topic.
Generally, doctors will look for the following traits when diagnosing addictions:
Treatment protocols vary, depending upon the addiction, but in general, medical, educational and social therapeutic modalities are required to address the addiction and the associated and secondary conditions that may exist. Treatments may include one or some of the following therapies:
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