Addiction is a medical condition that describes compulsive engagement in any rewarding stimuli, despite adverse in spite of its consequences. Addiction disrupts regions of the brain that are responsible for reward, motivation, learning, judgment and memory. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., perceived as being positive or desirable).
Common symptoms of addiction are severe loss of control, continued use despite serious consequences, preoccupation with using, failed attempts to quit, tolerance and withdrawal. Severe addiction often has both medical and social consequences because it damages various body systems as well as social structures like families, relationships, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods.
Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification and delayed, often fatal, effects of the addiction. Substance abuse is most commonly associated with addiction. Examples of substance abuse include alcoholism, amphetamine addiction, cocaine addiction, nicotine addiction, opiate addiction and food addiction. There are however behavior addictions that have similar long-term consequences such as gambling and sex addiction.
Addiction is best effectively prevented, treated and managed by healthcare professionals in combination with family or peer support. Effective clinical treatments for addiction include psychotherapy. Addiction is comparable with chronic diseases like diabetes or cancer because, very often, the addict is unaware of the affliction until it is fully developed and virtually impossible to get rid of without clinical professional help. The best way to manage it is through ongoing disease management and support services.
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