Addiction refers to a difficulty in controlling certain repetitive behaviours to the extent that they have harmful consequences. They are the result of powerful compulsions to use and do certain things excessively, often out of a need to escape from upsetting emotions or situations. These compulsions can trigger a self-perpetuating process, which can cause pain and suffering not only for those addicted, but also for their friends and family.
Addictions can develop from many activities, including drinking alcohol, taking drugs, eating, gambling, having sex and using the internet. Often addictions begin as a result of how these activities make people feel emotionally and physically. These feelings can be pleasurable – triggering a powerful urge to carry out the activity again to recreate this ‘high’. This can develop into a repetitive cycle that becomes very hard to break.
There is a difference between an addiction and a habit. An addiction is where the sufferer is dependent on it for coping with daily life.