All about Addictions

Updated at: Jan 31, 2014
All about Addictions

Mostly people develop addictions due to primitive coping mechanisms, intense emotional distress or dysfunctional family environment. The reasons may vary but addiction surely make addicts life miserable one.

Dr Pulkit Sharma
MiscellaneousWritten by: Dr Pulkit SharmaPublished at: Jan 16, 2013

The disorders of addiction are classified into the following depending upon the frequency and intensity of substance use and the resultant psychosocial dysfunction:

  • Acute Intoxication: Due to a recent heavy dose of any psychoactive substance, the person experiences a transitory disturbance in thinking, feeling, behavior, awareness of oneself and surroundings. Usually, these disturbances go away when the substance gets eliminated from the body.

  • Harmful Use: The person is addicted to any psychoactive substance, takes it on a regular basis and this causes damage to person’s physical health, mental health and social and occupational functioning. People close to the person may criticize him for the addiction but he denies the problem.

  • Dependence Syndrome: The person has a longstanding addiction which becomes the topmost priority for him than everything else in life. The entire life of the individual revolves around the drug. He cannot control the drug taking behavior, spends a lot of time and effort in procuring the drug, may go to lengths to get it, takes progressively increased doses and neglects all other activities that interest him or the ones that he is supposed to do.

  • Withdrawal State: The individual experiences intense physical and psychological symptoms when he reduces drug intake following prolonged use. These symptoms are extremely painful and uncomfortable, the person finds them impossible to tolerate and often goes back to taking the substance. This is a major reason why people cannot quit substances despite making firm resolves.

  • Psychotic Disorder: In few cases, the individual may experience psychotic symptoms following substance use. He may feel very fearful or happy, experience vivid hallucinations, delusions and abnormalities in body movement.

  • Amnesia: Due to continuous use of drugs or alcohol, the person experiences difficulty in recent memory, i.e. he is unable to learn any kind of new information although memory for the past is more or less intact.




A wide range of psychological, biological and sociocultural factors are responsible for addictions in men:


  • Painful emotional states: People who develop addictions experience intense emotional distress that they are unable to tolerate. Commonly experienced emotional states include loneliness, boredom, rage, frustration and sadness. They take alcohol or drugs to numb these intense emotions. In treatment of addictions therefore working with these emotional states and making them tolerable for the person should be a major goal else the chances of the person getting addicted once again would be very high.

  • Primitive defenses: Substance users have primitive coping mechanisms due to which they cannot handle their emotions and deny their problems completely. When confronted by others about their addictions, these individuals are known not to acknowledge the problem.

  • Biological factors: Research has shown that genetic factors add to the risk of developing addictions. Some individuals have a unique biochemistry due to which they develop unpleasant reactions as soon as they take drugs and these persons are therefore not likely to have addictions. Following use of some drugs, the midbrain dopamine system gets activated and it reinforces the person to take more of the substance.

  • Dysfunctional family environment: Quite a few drug users have been reared in families where their physical and emotional needs were not fulfilled, an atmosphere of indulgence, aggression and violence prevailed, they were treated harshly or in contrast there was inconsistent d...


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