Addiction is a medical condition that is characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli, despite adverse consequences. It can be thought of as a disease or biological process leading to such behaviours. The two properties that characterize all addictions are that they are reinforcing (i.e., they increase the likelihood that a person will seek repeated exposure to them) and intrinsically rewarding (i.e., something perceived as being positive or desirable).
Addiction is a disorder of the brain’s reward system which arises through transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms and occurs over time from chronically high levels of exposure to an addictive stimulus (e.g., morphine, cocaine, sexual intercourse, gambling, etc.).
Addiction exacts a high toll on individuals and society as a whole through the direct adverse effects of drugs, associated healthcare costs, long-term complications (e.g., lung cancer with smoking tobacco, liver cirrhosis with drinking alcohol, or meth mouth from intravenous methamphetamine), the functional consequences of altered neural plasticity in the brain, and the consequent loss of productivity. Classic hallmarks include impaired control over substances or behaviour, preoccupation with substance or behaviour, and continued use despite consequences. Habits and patterns associated with using are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs).
Our Work with Addiction
Everyone talks about having an addiction problem. We see it as a solution: a solution to a deeper problem. The addiction has been serving you, helping you to cope. Our goal is to help you discover the deeper problem and begin your work there.