Inthe recent past, addiction has become a major issue of concern amonggovernments and stakeholders across the globe. The AmericanPsychological Association defines addiction as the behavioraltendency of an individual to pursue reward or reprieve from theconsumption of a substance or an activity. Some of the features ofan addicted person include: inability to abstain, failure torecognize the adverse effects of the substance being consumed onrelationships, inept emotional response, immense craving for thesubstance, and damaged behavioral control (Volkow & Li, 2004).
Wheneverone thinks of addiction, what comes to mind are common drugs such asalcohol and narcotics. However, there are also other types ofaddictions that are common in society. The other types of addictioninvolve certain behaviors that people find difficult to stop such assex, gambling, video games, pornography, love addiction, eatingdisorders, co-dependent to other human beings, and many others suchas pyromania and kleptomania. Drug addiction, which is common tomany, involves dependency on both legal and illegal drugs. Commondrugs are cocaine, marijuana, khat, mandrax and many others. Peoplewho are addicted to these drugs suffer the same way one would sufferwhen they have a chronic disease. That is, they go through the stagesof relapse and remission. Alcohol addiction, which has less severeproblems than the other drugs, also follows the same cycle.
Thephysiological mechanisms that lead to drug addiction explain why somepeople are more likely than others to be victims of addiction. Themechanisms are acute effects, the reward circuit stress responses inthe brain, operant conditioning that alter behavior, allostasis,neuroplasticity, neurogenesis, psychological drug tolerance, andsensitization (Koob & Le Moal, 2008). All these processesinvolve different parts of the brain and the entire central nervoussystems hence, affecting the behavior of one addict to another. Thedifferences in the level of physiological mechanisms involved amongindividual’s causes the different rates of addiction.
Addictionhas a comorbid association with mental disorders. Addiction altersthe way the brain functions by changing the priorities of a person. The outcome of the changed mental processes is compulsive behaviorsthat emanate from the addict’s inability to restrain from the urgeto use the substance in spite of their knowledge about the negativeconsequences. These processes are similar to other processes thatamount to mental illness. Furthermore, addiction also shares certainrisk factors with mental illness. Examples of risk factors that arecommon in both cases are: genetic predispositions, environmentaltriggers, similar brain regions responsible for behavioral responses,and the fact that both are developmental disorders.
Intoday’s society, people suffer from different types of mentaldisorders such as anxiety (generalized anxiety disorders, phobiasetc.), behavioral disorders (attention deficit hyperactivitydisorder), depression, dysthymia, psychosis, eating disorders,impulse control addiction disorders (kleptomania, pyromania, andaddiction to gambling), personality disorders (paranoid personalitydisorder), and developmental cognitive disorders (Ziedonis, 2004). Some of these mental problems are directly paired with addictionespecially to substances and alcohol. Paranoid personality disorderincreases in people addicted to marijuana. Kleptomania, pyromania,and the insatiable urge to gamble are some of the mental problemsthat affect people who alcohol and substance dependency disorders. There is also evidence of drug-induced psychosis, where people withschizophrenic predispositions suffer episodes due to abusing drugs.Mental disorders associated with addiction affect both genders. Males appear to be more affected than females due to the numericaldifference between the two genders in drug and substance abusestatistics. Otherwise, any person can suffer from theseaddiction-induced disorders as long as the risk factors are the same.
Fromthe above, it is clear that, addiction is a major issue of concern.The common type of addictions includes drugs, gambling and eatingdisorders among others. Addiction has a comorbid association withmental disorders. The physiological mechanisms that lead to drugaddiction explain why some people are more likely than others to bevictims of addiction. Examples of risk factors that are common inboth cases include genetic predispositions and environmentaltriggers.
Koob,G. F., & Le Moal, M. (2008). Neurobiological mechanisms foropponent motivational processes in addiction. PhilosophicalTransactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences,363(1507),3113-3123.
Volkow,N. D., & Li, T. K. (2004). Drug addiction: the neurobiology ofbehaviour gone awry. NatureReviews Neuroscience,5(12),963-970.
Ziedonis,D. M. (2004). Integrated treatment of co-occurring mental illness andaddiction: clinical intervention, program, and system perspectives.CNSspectrums,9(12),892-904.