What is addiction?

Addictions: all about causes, types, prevention and treatment

Addiction is characterised by a person’s inability to stop a repeated cycle of behaviours aimed at providing a sense of pleasure or reducing a feeling of discomfort, as well as by the continuation of these behaviours despite consequences that may be grave or even life-threatening (health problems, financial problems, isolation, loss of employment, etc.).

Substance addictions refer to addictive disorders associated with psychoactive substances, irrespective of their legal status. Behavioural or “non-substance” addictions apply to behaviours that may become compulsive, such as gambling, video games, sex, and internet pornography, among others.

Regardless of the type of addiction, the main criteria for determining whether or not a person has an addictive disorder are:

  • Having craving and urges to use a substance or engage in an activity
  • Needing more of a substance or activity to get the effect you want
  • Continuing to use a drug or engage in an activity despite negative consequences
  • Giving up important social, occupational or recreational activities because of substance use or activity