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Psychology Library – Resources to Help With Addictions


Addition has traditionally been defined as both psychological and physical dependence on substances that are psychoactive. A few examples of psychoactive substances are alcohol, heroin, other drugs and even tobacco. Once inside the human body, these substances are known to cross into the blood-brain barrier and change the chemical setting in the human brain. Addiction is also being viewed by some mental health professionals as addiction to activities and materials that are not substances. For example, people who have an unnatural, psychological dependence on things like food, work, porn or sex are viewed as being addicted to the aforementioned.

Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Substance dependence is when a person insists on the utilization of alcohol or additional substances even though using said substance presents problems. In this situation, substance abuse might be diagnosed by a mental health professional. Repeated as well as compulsive use of addictive substances might end up causing a person tolerance to the substance’s effects. As a result, withdrawal symptoms may begin to appear in the user of the substance if said user lessens the intake of the drug or stops it altogether.

Drugs that cause addiction are generally categorized into three groups. They are stimulants (caffeine, cocaine, etc.), opiates (heroin, morphine, etc.) and hypnotics and sedatives (barbiturates, alcohol, etc.). The pathophysiology of drug and alcohol addiction involves the areas of the reward circuit, acute effects, behavior, the stress response, allostasis and neuroplasticity. Addiction is treatable, but it is a complicated subject to manage. The treatment and the management of drug and alcohol addiction varies greatly based on the types of drugs done and the length of time a person has been abusing said substances.

Gambling Addiction

Problem gambling is termed ludomania and is defined as the urge to continue gambling even though there is a want to stop or the presence of hurtful, negative consequences. The gambler’s conduct does not determine what constitutes problem gambling; rather, ludomania is frequently established based on whether there is actual injury that is experienced by either the gambler or others. Based on research, the reason that some people may become problem gamblers is because of lower amounts of norepinephrine in their system. Norepinephrine gets released when a person experiences thrills, stresses or arousals, so gambling addicts gamble to elicit the release of norepinephrine to compensate for their unsatisfactory amounts.

There have to be criteria met in order to satisfy a diagnosis of problem gambling. A person who suffers a gambling addiction must gamble to escape personal problems and constantly fantasize about gambling. He or she also has to keep making bigger and bigger gambling bets to get the same “rush,” and he or she has to experience irritability when he or she tries to stop gambling. Other symptoms of problem gambling include trying to reclaim gambling losses with further bouts of gambling; lying about the severity of the gambling addiction; losing control regarding the number of unsuccessful times gambling was tried to be stopped; law breaking to recover gambling debts; jeopardizing relationships or jobs; and relying on family and friends to get money to settle gambling debts.


Self-harm is defined as the direct and intentional hurting of body tissues that is perpetrated without any intentions of suicide. These days, self-harm is the term of choice, but in the past decades, self-mutilation was more commonly depended upon to describe this sort of self-injuring conduct. The most popular manifestation of self-harm in people is skin-cutting (colloquially called cutting oneself), yet self-harm encompasses a broader range of self-destructive conduct beyond just skin-cutting. It also includes burning, scratching smashing body parts, ingesting toxic objects or substances or impeding the healing of wounds.

People commit self-harm for a myriad of reasons, mainly psychological, but a couple of reasons are the most widely attributed. In a nutshell, self-harm comes down to one of two, possible causes: either hyperstress or dissociation in the individual, both of which are also precursors to self-harm. Hyperstress is when a human being feels overwhelmed, hypersensitive, exposed or incapable of coping, which leads to feelings of relief or release through the act of self-harm. Dissociation is when a human being feels alone, lost, numb, unreal or disconnected from himself or herself or others, which leads to feelings of being able to cope, function and being real through the act of self-harm. It is quite easy to spot people who are self-harmers because they will usually display signs of either cutting or stabbing on their skin. However, people who self-harm by way of drinking poison or other non-obvious methods will not be easy to spot.

Other Addictions & Resources