Addiction - Description
At one time, the term "addiction" was used almost exclusively for substance addiction. That is, addicts were thought of as people who were totally dependent on drugs such as heroin, cocaine, nicotine, or alcohol. That form of addiction is now known as "substance addiction."
Experts also recognize that people can become addicted to certain behaviors. Some individuals may develop a dependence on gambling, shopping, sexual activity, eating, or many other activities. Addictions of this kind are sometimes called "process addictions."
The costs associated with addiction cannot be calculated. They go beyond the actual dollar amount that individuals spend. Addictions cause enormous personal harm to not only the addict, but to their families and friends as well. People who become addicted to drugs may develop any number of health problems. They may also experience personality changes and lose the ability to interact with other people socially.
Addicts may have trouble staying in school or holding a job. If they do hold a job, they may pose a certain risk to their co-workers, to their customers, and to any individuals with whom they interact. For example, a truck driver who is addicted to alcohol may pose a serious safety threat to other drivers on the road.
Addiction is also responsible for a host of societal problems. Because many addictions are very expensive, addicts may turn to crime in order to get the money they need. The business of providing addicts with the substances and activities they require has become a huge enterprise. Casino operators, tobacco and alcohol companies, and other operations are kept in steady business.