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Addictions - General Information

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Please do NOT add profiles to this project. Add them to the addiction or cause of death.


  • If there isn't a project for the addiction please contact Patricia Ann Scoggin (Anderson) & I will be happy to create the needed project.

Addiction is a brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. The two properties that characterize all addictive stimuli are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., they are perceived as being inherently positive, desirable, and pleasurable).

Addiction is a chronic disease characterized by drug seeking and use that is compulsive, or difficult to control, despite harmful consequences. It doesn’t discriminate based on occupation, income, race, culture or personal willpower. It exacts a high toll on individuals and society as a whole through the direct adverse effects of drugs, associated healthcare costs, long-term complications (e.g., lung cancer with smoking tobacco, liver cirrhosis with drinking alcohol, or meth mouth from intravenous methamphetamine), the functional consequences of altered neural plasticity in the brain, and the consequent loss of productivity. Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, and continued use despite consequences. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).

Examples of drug and behavioral addictions include: alcoholism, amphetamine addiction, cocaine addiction, nicotine addiction, opiate addiction, food addiction, gambling addiction, and sexual addiction. The only behavioral addiction recognized by the DSM-5 is gambling addiction. The term addiction is misused frequently to refer to other compulsive behaviors or disorders, particularly dependence, in news media. An important distinction between drug addiction and dependence is that drug dependence is a disorder in which cessation of drug use results in an unpleasant state of withdrawal, which can lead to further drug use. Addiction is the compulsive use of a substance or performance of a behavior that is independent of withdrawal.

Long-term use also causes changes in other brain chemical systems and circuits as well, affecting functions that include:

  • Learning
  • Judgment
  • Decision-making
  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Behavior

Why do some people become addicted to drugs while others don't?

  • No one factor can predict if a person will become addicted to drugs. A combination of factors influences risk for addiction. The more risk factors a person has, the greater the chance that taking drugs can lead to addiction.
  • Biology. The genes that people are born with account for about half of a person's risk for addiction. Gender, ethnicity, and the presence of other mental disorders may also influence risk for drug use and addiction.
  • Environment. A person’s environment includes many different influences, from family and friends to economic status and general quality of life. Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person’s likelihood of drug use and addiction.
  • Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person’s life to affect addiction risk. Although taking drugs at any age can lead to addiction, the earlier that drug use begins, the more likely it will progress to addiction. This is particularly problematic for teens. Because areas in their brains that control decision-making, judgment, and self-control are still developing, teens may be especially prone to risky behaviors, including trying drugs.

List of Addictions to Substances

Anything taken to an extreme can become an addiction. Substance use disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) provide a list of addictions relating to the following substances. Many can and do become a cause of death either directly or indirectly.

  • Alcohol
    • 18 Million addicts; Alcohol abuse has numerous negative consequences. In addition to deaths from liver disease and alcohol overdose, drunk driving claims thousands of lives every year.
  • Tobacco
    • Over 40 Million addicts; Tobacco use claims more lives than any that of any other addictive substance.
  • Opioids / Opiates (like heroin, amytal, Darvon, Dilaudid, demerol, fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, lorcet, lortab, methadone, morphine, opium, to name just a few)
    • 426,000 heroin addicts; Heroin abuse has been growing in the United States, particularly among young women. There is growing concern over heroin users contracting and spreading diseases like HIV and AIDS by sharing needles for injection.
  • Prescription drugs (Antidepressants, sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics like sleeping pills and tranquilizers)
    • Painkillers – 1.8 Million; Addiction to painkillers can develop from seemingly harmless levels of use. Most patients who become addicted to prescription painkillers don’t notice they have a problem until they try to stop use.
    • Sedatives (barbiturates) – 78,000; Millions of Americans are prescribed barbiturate sedatives, commonly known as sleeping pills, to treat tension and sleep disorders. Every year, thousands of prescription users build a tolerance — and ensuing addiction — to drugs like Lunesta and Ambien. Sleeping pills can produce mind-altering effects that lead to continued abuse.
  • Cocaine
    • 821,000 addicts; Rates of cocaine addiction in the United States are dropping. The decline is slow, however, as of 2011.
  • Cannabis (marijuana, hashish)
    • 4.2 Million addicts; Rates of marijuana addiction might also be growing due to increasing potency (over 60 percent) over the past decade.
  • Amphetamines (illegal street drugs like methamphetamine, known as meth)
  • Hallucinogens (LSD, Ketamine, PCP, Salvia, Mushrooms)
  • Inhalants / Aerosol Sniffing (cleaning fluids, nitrous oxide, paint thinner, aerosol sprays)
    • 140,000 addicts; Inhalant addiction is particularly dangerous because inhalants are volatile toxic substances. The effects of these substances — gasoline, household cleaning products, aerosols — are intense and can have immediate consequences including hospitalization or death. Chemicals prevalent in inhalants can linger in the body and brain long after stopping use, making complete recovery more difficult
  • Phencyclidine (known as PCP or Angeldust)
  • Anabloic steroids (Stanozol, oxandrin)
  • Over the Counter medications (DXM/Cough Medicine, Sleep Aids, Diet Pills, Dramamine, Oxymetazoline)
  • Other unspecified substances

AMONG PEOPLE WITH A SUBSTANCE PROBLEM, NEARLY 1 IN 5 HAVE MULTIPLE SUBSTANCE DISORDERS.  

  • Nicotine: over 1/5 have another alcohol or drug problem
  • Alcohol: nearly 1/3  also have a nicotine or other drug problem
  • Illegal drugs: nearly 2/3 have another substance problem

Prescription drug: nearly 3/4 have another substance problem

For Further info See:

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