What is addiction ?

The notion of addiction has been around for a long time, and the word has been used more in a slang sense in a clinical one for hundreds of years. By slang, the meaning of addiction is treated as more of a factual sense than a problem or illness or disease.

Many people know that they are addicted to cigarettes, but still choose to see it as a choice. Many people will joke about being addicted to coffee or chocolate, meaning they have a real liking for it and see the idea of being addicted to it as almost a bit of a novelty.

Addiction has a much darker side to it, best exemplified by the realisation in recent times that alcoholism is an illness, and is a form of addiction to alcohol that many people have and simply cannot conquer by sheer will of mind.

In addition, since the acceptance of alcoholism has been an illness, much recognition has been generated of people who have real problems with other forms of addiction, such as drugs, gambling, food etc.

The debate but actually what addiction is and isn’t is more of a clinical one than a practical one. Addiction is the main focus for most rehabs and treatment centres, either focusing on alcoholism or addiction to other substances or other problems.

The realisation by way of treatment methods of addiction, be it to alcohol or drugs, is a sense that someone who is an alcoholic or an addict has a number of underlying emotional issues and drives which effectively fuel their illness.

The focus of a rehab, and of the recovery movement such as Alcoholics Anonymous, will be to help an alcoholic understand that the addiction to alcohol is in many ways a symptom of the illness.

The real process of recovery, as recognised through the 12 step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous, is a rebuilding of one’s inner world, which many people will deem as a spiritual process, others as more of a therapeutic process.

Addiction to alcohol or other substances is often seen as a form of moral weakness. What is really important from a recovery point of view is a realisation that an alcoholic or edit seize alcohol as being the solution to their problems not the problem itself.

This is a truth that a rehab needs to own and address, and should be a core part of its treatment philosophy, and should underlie all of its clinical programs.