lifestyle life a long about illness not Addiction choice

Addiction is a major health problem that costs around all other mental illnesses combined (about £40 billion per year) and about as much as cancer and cardiovascular disorders also.

At its core addiction is really a state of altered brain function that results in fundamental changes in behavior which can be manifest by repeated use of alcohol or other drugs or doing activities such as gambling.  They are usually resisted, albeit unsuccessfully, by the addict.  The main element features of addiction is therefore circumstances of habitual behaviour such as for instance drug taking or gambling that's initially enjoyable but which eventually becomes self-sustaining or habitual. The urge to take part in the behaviour becomes so powerful so it disrupts normal life often to the point of overtaking work, personal relationships and family activities. Now anyone could be reported to be addicted: the addict's every thought and action is directed with their addiction and the rest suffers.

If the addictive behaviour is extremely hard e.g. because they don't have enough money then feelings of intense distress emerge. These can cause dangerously impulsive and sometimes aggressive actions.  In the case of drug/alcohol addiction the specific situation is compounded by the occurrence of withdrawal reactions which cause further distress and motivate desperate attempts to find more of the addictive agent. This urge to get the drug may be so overpowering that addicts will commit seemingly random crimes to get the resources to purchase more drug. It has been estimated that about 70% of most acquisitive crime is associated with drug and alcohol use.

Addiction is driven by a complicated group of internal and external factors.  The external factors are well understood:  the more use of the specified drug or behaviour e.g. gambling the more addiction there is.

The inner factors are less clear. Although most addiction is always to alcohol and other drugs, addiction to gambling and other behaviours such as for example sex or shopping can occur. These inform us that mental performance can develop hard-to-control urges independent of changing its chemistry with drugs.  All addictions share a standard thread in that they're initially pleasurable activities, often extremely enjoyable. This results in these behaviours hijacking the brain's normal pleasure systems so that naturally enjoyable activities such as family life, work, exercise become devalued and the more excessive addiction behaviours take over.

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