In this article, we are taking a closer look at what an addiction exactly is and when we call someone an addict.
Addiction to substances or habits
When is something an addiction? We prefer to say: when are you addicted? Addiction is a disease: it is found in several places in your body, including your brain.
The term addiction applies to substances such as alcohol and drugs, but also to habits that people cannot resist. Think of gambling addiction, sex addiction and Internet addiction. Irresponsible use of substances can lead to aggression on the streets, use of domestic violence and accidents at work and in traffic. People who have an addiction can suffer from heart and liver diseases.
When is an addiction?
When is something an addiction? One of the definitions of addiction is: an irresistible desire to use substances. This desire is also known as ‘craving’. At a certain point, the craving becomes more of a dependency, or even a necessity.
You speak of addiction when you:
- An individual can no longer live without a drug, either physically or psychologically
- When a person needs more and more of a certain drug to achieve the same effect
- Someone experiences withdrawal symptoms when they are not using. These can be physical symptoms, such as sweating or trembling. Or mental symptoms such as feeling restless or panicking when you are not taking the drug.
- An individual Spends more than half the day thinking about it, trying to get hold of it or actually using it
You are addicted to a drug when you have become dependent on it. You become dependent when you have to use more and more to achieve the desired effect. For example, you get withdrawal symptoms if you don’t use it or you use to counteract withdrawal symptoms.
Do you get addicted quickly?
You don’t get hooked just like that, it can sometimes take years. It depends on the substance that you use. Moreover, some people are more likely to get addicted than others. Certain substances such as heroin, tobacco and GBH can quickly become addicted, while alcohol, cannabis and XTC are much slower to develop an addiction. Read more about the different types of drugs here.
It is a process that consists of a number of phases: from experimental to recreational use, to habitual use, to problematic use and finally to an all-consuming addiction. With an addiction, you can no longer live without it and you are faced with physical, psychological and social problems.
Is addiction a genetic condition?
You can have a genetic predisposition for addiction, but other things such as upbringing, your personality, your habits and the environment also play an important role in the development of an addiction.
How do you get addicted to a substance?
You don’t get addicted just like that, it can sometimes take years. You do quickly become addicted to certain substances such as heroin, tobacco and GBH.
It is a process that starts with experimentation, moves on to social use and can turn into overuse if you take or use it to suppress unpleasant feelings or problems. Addiction occurs when it becomes increasingly difficult to control. You can no longer do without it and you develop physical, psychological and/or social problems.
Addiction does not always have to get out of hand. Nor is there always an obvious cause for addiction, such as a difficult childhood or a bad relationship.
Once addicted, always addicted?
If you have become addicted, it takes a lot of courage and perseverance to deal with it. Overcoming an addiction can be a process that takes years. It often means that you have to give new meaning to your life. Watch a short film here about the creation and disappearance of an addiction.
Whether it is possible to beat your addiction differs from person to person. Some do it and are able to continue living without the drug. Others will have to learn to deal with their addiction.
The longer you are addicted, the harder it is to break the pattern. Once you have kicked the habit, you remain extra sensitive to the drug. Think of smoking: if you’re not careful, you’ll be hooked again in no time.
Can you get addicted to smoking weed?
You can become addicted to smoking weed. If you have to use it (almost) daily to feel good and if you get stressed when you think about stopping.
If you stop, there is a good chance that you will experience withdrawal symptoms. Think of irritability, restlessness, but also of heavy dreams and waking up sweating.
With hash and weed, tolerance develops. This means that someone who smokes cannabis on a daily basis experiences it differently and less intensely than someone who smokes cannabis every now and then. After stopping for a while, the first joint can therefore be intense.