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What Is Addiction?

Addiction is a condition in which a person becomes dependent on a substance or behavior, to the point where it becomes difficult to control or stop. It is characterised by a strong and compulsive desire to engage in the addictive substance or activity, despite negative consequences.

When someone engages in an addictive behavior or consumes an addictive substance, it triggers the brain's reward system, releasing a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine creates feelings of pleasure and reinforces the desire to repeat the behavior. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to the presence of the substance or behavior and adjusts its normal functioning accordingly.

As a result, the individual develops a tolerance, needing larger amounts of the substance or more frequent engagement in the behavior to achieve the same level of satisfaction. This leads to a cycle of escalating substance use or engagement in the addictive behavior.

Withdrawal symptoms may occur when the person tries to reduce or stop the addictive behavior or substance. These symptoms can be physical, such as shaking or sweating, or psychological, such as anxiety or irritability. The discomfort of withdrawal often drives individuals to continue engaging in the addictive behavior or consuming the substance to relieve the symptoms.

Addiction can affect various aspects of a person's life, including their physical and mental health, relationships, work or school performance, and overall well-being. It is important to recognise addiction as a complex issue that requires understanding, support, and appropriate treatment to overcome.