By definition: “Any activity, substance, object, or behavior that has become the major focus of a person's life to the exclusion of other activities, or that has begun to harm the individual or others physically, mentally, or socially is considered an addictive behavior. “
A person can become addicted, dependent, or compulsively obsessed with anything. Research has implied similarities between physical addiction to various chemicals, such as alcohol and heroin, and psychological dependence on activities like gambling, sex, work, running, shopping, or eating disorders. The belief is that these behavioral activities can produce beta-endorphins in the brain, which makes the person feel high. If someone continues in the activity to get this feeling of well-being and euphoria, they may get into an addictive cycle. Doing this makes the person physically addicted to their own brain chemicals. This can lead to continuation of the behavior even though it may have negative health or social consequences.
There are many common characteristics among the various addictive behaviors:
• They constantly think of the object, activity, or substance.
• They will go out and look for, or take part in the behavior even though it is causing physical problems, poor work or study performance, problems with friends, family, fellow workers.
• They will compulsively do the activity over and over even if they do not want to and find it hard to stop.
• If they stop the activity, withdrawal symptoms often follow; including irritability, craving, restlessness or depression.
• They do not seem to have control of when, how long, or how much they will continue the behavior.
• They deny problems that result from their behavior, even though others can see the negative effects.
• They hide the behavior after family or friends have mentioned their concern.
• Many people with addictive behaviors report a blackout for the time they were engaging in the behavior.
• Depression is common in people with addictive behaviors.
• They often have low self-esteem, have anxiety if they feel they have no control over their environment, and may come from psychologically or physically abusive families.
There is not much agreement when it comes to the cause, prevention, and treatment of addictive disorders. A United States government publication, "Theories on Drug Abuse: Selected Contemporary Perspectives," lists forty-three theories of chemical addiction and at least fifteen methods of treatment.
Many people believe that addictive behaviors such as gambling and alcoholism are diseases, but others think they are behaviors learned or inherited. Others say it is genetic. Unlike most common diseases such as tuberculosis, which has a definite cause and a definite treatment, there is no conclusive cause or definite treatment which everyone agrees on for most of the addictive behaviors.
Addiction is not limited to substances such as cocaine, alcohol, inhalants, or...