Addiction Alchemy

Going Beyond Sobriety

Source: Wikipedia
The term "addiction" is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive physical dependence or psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction, video game addiction, crime, money, alcoholism, work addiction,compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, pornography addiction, etc.

In medical terminology, an addiction is a state in which the body relies on a substance for normal functioning and develops physical dependence, as in drug addiction. When the drug or substance on which someone is dependent is suddenly removed, it will cause withdrawal, a characteristic set of signs and symptoms. Addiction is generally associated with increased drug tolerance. In physiological terms, addiction is not necessarily associated with substance abuse since this form of addiction can result from using medication as prescribed by a doctor.

However, common usage of the term addiction has spread to include psychological dependence. In this context, the term is used in drug addiction and substance abuse problems, but also refers to behaviors that are not generally recognized by the medical community as problems of addiction, such as compulsive overeating.

The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as problem gambling and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user him self to his or hers individual's health, mental state or social life.

My definition of addiction runs probably alot deeper than the DSM-IV. Here are some of the guidelines from the DSM:

SUBSTANCE ABUSE:

One or more of the following:

* FAILURE TO FULFILL MAJOR OBLIGATIONS
* USE WHEN PHYSICALLY HAZARDOUS
* RECURRENT LEGAL PROBLEMS
* RECURRENT SOCIAL OR INTERPERSONAL PROBLEMS

With SUBSTANCE ABUSE the user has a choice: he/she uses in spite of illegal, unsafe consequences, or inappropriateness of the drinking/drugging experience.


SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCE (ADDICTION/ALCOHOLISM)

Three or more of the following:

* TOLERANCE
* WITHDRAWAL
* LARGE AMOUNTS OVER A LONG PERIOD
* UNSUCCESSFUL EFFORTS TO CUT DOWN
* TIME SPENT IN OBTAINING THE SUBSTANCE REPLACES SOCIAL, OCCUPATIONAL OR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES
* CONTINUED USE DESPITE ADVERSE CONSEQUENCES

The terms “addiction” “dependence” and “alcoholism” are interchangeable. They are characterized by impaired control over drug use - in other words, the question to the user is: “Did you continue to behave in a manner that has previously caused problems for you?”

The relationship with the drug becomes primary - it is like a consuming love affair - it becomes the most important relationship for the individual and all decisions made are based on the maintenance of this relationship.

This definition has psychological and physiological characteristics. Psychological because the individual has an obsessive preoccupation with the drug and physiological because of the neuro-chemical action taking place in the brain.

The definition differs from the traditional definition of dependence/addiction as it is now not necessary to have the three criteria of (1) tolerance, (2) withdrawal (physical dependence) and (3) compulsion (psychological dependence). These three criteria are sufficient but not necessary for “dependence”. With this new definition “cocaine” is classified as addictive even though it has no significant physical withdrawal. The DSM-IV-TR defines this by specifying the following:

With Physiological Dependence –evidence of tolerance or withdrawal
(i.e. item #1 or #2 is present)


Without Physiological Dependence – no evidence of tolerance or withdrawal
(i.e. neither item #1 nor item #2 is present) (DSM-IV-TR p. 198.)

Renee's definition:
Anything that you do, think or believe or avoid doing, thinking or believing that keeps you from experiencing a true connection to Self, other people and your purpose. I believe that addiction is a natural process that we go through as human beings as we evolve into an ever increasing ability to access our free will and to integrate all the aspects of our being: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual or body, mind, heart, soul and spirit.

What do you think?

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Great intro to "addiction," Renee. Having been in the field for a bit, I have seen many definitions. I like your indication of addiction being "a natural process." It has been an inkling of mine for years that we have an innate desire to alter consciousness. That desire is neither "good" nor "bad" -- it just is. It is our intention and action that determines if we are working toward Self, or defeating our growth.

For many, the path of evolution you speak of becomes a rut in which one tries to fill a sense of disconnection or internal void. As long as we try to connect or fill that void from without we are missing the mark. For some, it becomes the compulsion you speak of. For others, it becomes another lesson in the journey -- one more step toward Self-realization.

Since we last spoke, Renee, my career has taken a beautiful turn. I have accepted a position as Peer Support Specialist (PSS) at our treatment facility. All those years of being a Holistic Consultant on the side are now being integrated into my professional world. The role of PSS appears less prestigious as that of "therapist," but it gives me more latitude in providing the healing environment I am drawn toward. It is very exciting to see the trend of mainstream acceptance of holistic practices. Witnessing a shift from illness and treatment to wellness and recovery is a refreshing change, to say the least. And I must say, the approach is beginning to be welcomed by our clients too. I have actually mentioned Addiction Alchemy to a few clients and am curious to hear their views.

Keep up the excellent work. I am excited to be a part of the Addiction Alchemy web community and look forward to the journey.

Many Blessings,

Snowfire

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