What is addiction?



  1. How do you know when you're addicted? Simply put, people who are addicted are unable to stop behaviors or actions when they wish. If someone tells themselves or others that they are going to stop doing something, and cannot permanently cease the unwanted behavior, they are probably addicted. 
  2. Isn't everyone addicted to something? Yes. Technically we are all addicted to oxygen and will experience withdrawal symptoms if denied it. A major criteria for addiction is that there has to be negative consequences associated with the behavior. Drug and alcohol addiction produces obvious and often dangerous consequences which should not be ignored.
  3. I've been told I'm 'self-medicating.' Is there a difference between addiction and self-medication? In my experience, all people with drug and alcohol problems are medicating something, whether it is emotional pain or physical pain.
  4. Is there such a thing as a functioning alcoholic or addict? Yes and no. Many people can hold a job and even make a lot of money in their addiction, but when dealing with functioning you have to assess all areas of a person's life. So if someone is earning a six figure salary and has children who do not speak to him, he is functioning poorly in certain areas of his life.
  5. How do I know if I need help? Sometimes it may be a loved one who suggests there may be a problem, other times it is when the one using feels that they are no longer themselves, or they are no longer drinking or using for fun, but in order to feel normal.
  6. I feel ashamed about having a problem. Does anyone have to know? HIPPA laws for those seeking help with drug and alcohol problems are very strict to ensure that people will seek treatment when needed. Unless a release is signed by you, nobody needs to know you are seeking help with a drug or alcohol problem.