Addiction is when a person is unable to stop doing a certain thing or taking a certain substance, even though it causes them harm.
Common examples of things that people become addicted to are drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and gambling.
A person with an addiction may find that if they stop doing or taking the thing they are addicted to, they suffer from “withdrawal symptoms”. This could involve anxiety, irritability, nausea, fatigue, shaking, a loss of appetite or vomiting.
Other signs of an addiction include the person uncontrollably seeking the thing they are addicted to, neglecting other important areas of life, and trying to hide their addictive behaviour. As an addicted person often loses interest in other things in life, their physical health, relationships or employment may suffer.
A GP can discuss addiction with a person and refer them for treatment. A number of community organisations also exist to support treatment for addiction.
Treatment can vary depending on the thing that the person is addicted to. Behavioural therapy and counselling are important treatments. For some addictions, medication or medical devices may also be appropriate.
Treatment for addiction can sometimes take a long time.