Helpful information about the types, causes, and symptoms of addictive disorders.
An addictive disorder is an impaired control over any substance (chemical) or non-substance (behavioural), which can rouse major social problems, risky behaviour, and tolerance or withdrawal symptoms. Addictive disorders cloud a person’s regular judgement, which affects their decision making, memory, learning, and control over certain behaviours.
Addictive disorders are widespread — often bearing severe consequences for sufferers, whose symptoms are often chronic and relapsing in nature.
Risk factors for addictive behaviour include cultural and social triggers, as well as genetic predispositions. The negative implications of addiction not only affect the individual, but also their family and the broader community.
What is an addiction?
“Addiction” is a complex term
to grasp — essentially, it is a brain disease which transpires due to
compulsive engagement in a seemingly rewarding stimuli. It is a patient’s “loss
of control” over a behaviour, despite any adverse consequences they might face.
Substance (chemical) dependence and abuse are common manifestations of
addiction, and the condition creates powerful urges to recreate the mental “highs”
felt from being under the influence of certain drugs, including alcohol and
In spite of the negative
consequences, addicts may go out of their way to feed their habit by engaging
in risky behaviour that threatens to damage their personal and professional
relationships. It’s important to remember that chemical and behavioural
addiction is a disease that is impulsive, progressive, potentially fatal and
Causes of addiction
There are many reasons why people engage in substance misuse and other unhealthy behaviour. For many sufferers of addiction, using drugs and alcohol becomes a learned way of coping with their issues, instead of reaching out to someone or seeking a healthy solution to manage grief.
Addictive disorders are caused by many factors, such as:
Genetic vulnerability and family history
Environmental stressors including work, family and relationships
Social and peer pressure
Individual personality characteristics and psychiatric problems
Types of addictive disorders
When we think of addiction – alcohol and other drugs immediately come to mind. Substance abuse isn’t the only form of an addictive disorder. Common destructive habits include substances and non-substances, or behavioural:
Opioids (heroin, oxycodone, morphine, or codeine)
Other prescription painkillers
Central nervous system (CNS) depressants (sedatives, hypnotics, or anxiolytics)
Amphetamines (crystal methamphetamine or MDMA)
Food and eating
Mobile phone/social media
Signs and symptoms
The signs of addiction vary from person to person, however there are some key signs and symptoms that mean you may by suffering with an addictive disorder:
Extreme hyperactivity or lethargy
Changes or deterioration in hygiene and/or physical appearance
Sudden weight loss or weight gain
Tremors, sweating or impaired coordination
Slurred/incoherent speech or repetitive speech patterns
Bloodshot eyes/dilated pupils
Excessive sniffing and runny nose
Nausea and vomiting
Fear or paranoia
Sudden mood swings
Changes in persona
Increased risk taking and participation in dangerous activities
Neglecting usual responsibilities
Reduced participation/missing important engagements
Prolonged or regular time off work/school
Secretive or isolating behaviour/activities
Unusual sleeping patterns
Financial problems (i.e. always asking for money)
Complaints from coworkers/teachers
Coming to terms with Addiction
Denial, often a process of intervention, can sometimes influence the sufferer’s family and friends into enabling behaviour. Addiction sufferers can sometimes struggle to identify their condition, and will instead persuade their loved ones to make excuses, cover for them, or forgo the appropriate care, so they can continue to use substances or engage in certain behaviour.
Recovery is all about acceptance. Struggling with addiction can be an isolating experience, but it’s important to remember you and your loved ones are not alone. Coming to terms with and understanding an addictive disorder can open up the doors to recovery.
Helping friends and family with an addiction
Friends and family play a central role in both intervening with and preventing a loved one’s substance use and misuse by offering a level of protection that is invaluable. Facing addiction can be frightening — but family involvement helps to encourage a sense of resilience on the road to recovery. Having the strong social support and guidance of a positive role model can make all the difference in preventing a relapse.
A relationship based on honesty will best convince your loved one to seek help for their problem — so if you do notice any warning signs, make sure you address your concerns with an open conversation.
Remember you are not alone. If you are concerned your loved one may be struggling with an addictive disorder, reach out to Currumbin Clinic. Our highly trained and compassionate staff are here to assist you every step of the way.
Treatment and support
It’s important to provide sufferers of addiction with the resources, education and clinical support needed to address their issues, and in turn, limit the risk of misuse or overdose and misuse.
Treatment for addiction addresses the root causes of the disease, including:
Abandonment (emotional or physical)
Alternative ways to cope with addiction
There are many ways to treat addiction and there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer. At Currumbin Clinic we believe in placing an emphasis on both mindfulness-based therapies and evidence-based medicine throughout the recovery process. Each and every patient is unique — as such, one of our healthcare professionals will assess your individual circumstances to design a program that considers all factors unique to your rehabilitation
If you’re coming to terms with your addiction or someone you know is struggling with an addictive disorder, we’re here to listen. Call 1800 119 118 to take the first step of recovery. Speak to one of our qualified and compassionate staff members about treatment options today.
If you are in distress call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention.If you need emergency support, please dial 000 for the police or an ambulance.