Addiction is the physiological and/or emotional dependence upon a substance, an activity, or a modus operandi that is so strong as to have a harmful physical and/or emotional effect, and which keeps the individual from dealing effectively with his own life and with interactions with society. The addict often loses his power of self-control and his behaviour becomes determined by the source of his addiction and increasingly inconsistent with his personal values, leading him to become more compulsive and obsessive.
Some people say that addiction is a disease. Some say it's a chemical dependency. Some say it's just a question of the wrong mindset.â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹ Some say it's lack of willpower/self discipline.â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹ Some say it's the brain's attempt to make up for a neurochemical deficiency. They are all right, to various degrees, depending on the person/situation/substance.â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹â€‹
The two main types of additions are (a) substance addictions (ingestive addictions) which are addictions to substances that are almost always mood-altering and lead to increasing physical dependence (alcohol, drugs, nicotine, caffeine, food); and (b) process addictions (almost any specific set of actions or interactions can be an addictive agent, for example gambling, accumulating money, sex, work, religion and worry).
Manifestations of addition as individual dependency relationships are: alcoholism, drug addiction, eating disorders, sexual and gambling addictions. Addictions also manifest as symptoms of mental ill health, in conditions such as manic depression, obsessive-compulsive disorders, narcissistic personality and phobias. Addiction on the interpersonal plane may be expressed as dependent relationships (co-dependency), such as marriages where one partner cannot function without the other. On the systemic plane, addictive behaviour may be expressed through compulsive overwork and careerism, or dysfunctional and rigid families, where people have lost true self-determination and effectively become zombies addicted to serving societal norms rather than in touch with, and acting on their own true needs, feelings and values.
The capacity to find therapeutic interventions will be greatly enhanced by our ability to understand neural mechanisms of (1) the brain state prior to engagement of self-destructive behavior, and (2) pharmacotherapies (and even psychotherapies) directed at specific conditions.