Dependence, addiction, addiction addiction

Haha The terms dependence, dependence and addiction are used interchangeably here.

It can be a dependence on a product (drugs, alcohol, tobacco...), a person (love or emotional dependence), or a behavior (gambling, shopping, work, sport, food, political or religious ideals, sex...)

The starting point of any dependence is an emotionally and physically powerful encounter with a product, behavior or person, which meets a deep-seated expectation of the individual, in a particular context (social, family, emotional...). While addiction has a "disease" aspect, it is also a symptom of something deeper: a malaise, for example, or suffering, a need for self-reinforcement...

Whether it's a product dependency or a compulsive behavior, the neurobiological mechanisms involved are the same, and the diagnostic criteria and evolution of addiction are similar.

In all addictions, we find the same elements, at different levels of intensity:

  • The person feels a compelling desire for the product or behavior.
  • Tolerance develops. This corresponds to an adaptation of the organism, resulting in the need to increase doses to achieve the desired effect or excitement.
  • The person loses control of their consumption or behavior. They continue even after becoming aware of the negative consequences.
  • The "addict's" entire existence is focused on the physical and psychological effects of the product or behavior. As a corollary, they gradually lose interest in other activities or pleasures.
  • Withdrawal or dose reduction causes them great physical and psychological suffering.
  • They are unable to stop on their own, and feel alienated and trapped by their addiction.
  • Even after years of abstinence, "addicts" remain more sensitive than others to the product or behavior, and thus to the possibility of relapse. They remain hypersensitive to incentives.

Every human being is addicted to something... and often to several things at once. But at what point does behaviour become pathological, and what is the dividing line between frequent or even excessive behaviour and truly pathological behaviour?
Objective, quantifiable criteria (number of times a day, number of hours, etc.) are not enough to speak of pathology (and therefore care). The person must feel alienated, must express suffering, must want to stop but be unable to do so without help.

updated on 4/28/24

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