1. What is an addict? Is an addict someone who lives in an abandoned building surrounded by used up needles? Is an addict the homeless man in the park? Maybe the addict is the little old lady who smiles every time you walk by her porch.

    The truth is that an addict can be anyone and they can be addicted to almost anything. The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary 3rd edition claims that an addict is "one who has a confirmed habit". Most people have habits, but they may not necessarily be an addiction.

    The actual defining characteristics of an addict are that they do not feel a want for whatever they are addicted to. Instead, they feel a need for it and this need is usually associated ending some sort of pain, whether it be physical or mental. There is a compulsion to do the activity that the addiction is associated with.

    An addiction is one type of mental illness. A  mental illness is any issue that causes problems with day to day tasks. While some addictions may not be seen to cause problems with day to day tasks, in the bigger picture, they really do.

    For instance, one can be addicted to video games. While this may seem harmless, it can interfere with social activities and skills as well as daily activities that would be done if the person wasn’t playing a video game. The most commonly known type of addictions are drug and alcohol addictions, but this is only because those versions are more obvious and are actively doing harm to the body, while addictions like video game addictions are indirectly doing harm to the body by lack of exercise and posture.

    Addiction is blind. It does not care about economic class, race or gender. It strikes all manner of people at all ages. It is an all consuming need that must be met in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can vary depending on the specifics of the addiction. Every withdrawal will include great measures of anxiety and nervousness, regardless of any other withdrawal symptoms.

    Addiction in short is a mistress that will be appeased or will cause pain. There are no other options. While the pain of withdrawal will generally not be a life long pain, it is acute enough to be excruciating to the addict and may cause the addict to take extreme measures to meet the needs of the addiction.

    Reference: The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary and the Encyclopedia of Mental Health

    Photo courtesy of Foxtongue under the creative commons license with attribution rights reserved

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