What is the nature of addictions?

Addiction involves an intense desire for something, the loss of control over its use, and continued participation in it despite adverse consequences. Addiction is a chronic illness characterized by compulsive or difficult to control drug seeking and using drugs, despite harmful consequences. The initial decision to use drugs is voluntary for most people, but repeated drug use can cause brain changes that challenge an addicted person's self-control and interfere with their ability to resist the intense urge to use drugs. These brain changes can be persistent, which is why drug addiction is considered a recurring illness; people who are recovering from a drug use disorder are at greater risk of returning to using drugs even after years without using the drug.

At Above and Beyond Family Recovery Center, we believe that addiction is just one symptom of deeper underlying psychological problems. Addiction is a bad, temporary reaction that brings relief. Addiction tends to run in families, but scientists are discovering that there is no simple “addictive personality”. Instead, factors that include genes, character traits, and early life experiences combine to make the inheritance of addiction a complicated problem (see page S4).