What Is Addiction?

How do you define addiction, and where can you seek help for it?

“Addiction is defined as not having control over doing, taking or using something to the point where it could be harmful to you.” – defined by the NHS

If you’ve ever watched a tv show, a film, or read a book, chances are that at some point you’ve encountered depictions of addiction. It’s a term that’s very commonly associated with alcohol or drugs, and often with criminality, because a lot of addictive substances are illegal.

Addiction to drugs comes in all forms, including pills

In reality, addiction is very common – it’s thought about one in three people are addicted to something – and you can be addicted to all kinds of different things. Doctors treat it as a mental health problem.

What Can People Be Addicted To?

Although the most common associations of addiction are drugs and alcohol, people can be addicted to all sorts of behaviours. There is a big conversation at the moment, about whether you can be addicted to social media. Other things you can be addicted to include sex, gambling, work, shopping, and food. An estimated two million people in the UK are dealing with some manifestation of addiction.

Many young people are addicted to their phones

“Consumerism and materialism are creating a culture of addiction. We are all on the scale somewhere because we are kept there by the age we live in.” – Russell Brand (Recovery: Overcoming Our Addictions)

What Causes Addiction?

There is no single cause of addiction. Certain social factors can contribute to the likelihood of becoming addicted to something, but there is no set formula for this.

At its core, addiction is an attempt to find happiness. It can be fuelled by a feeling of emptiness. The sufferer can feel dissatisfied and looks for external pleasures to deal with an internal struggle. The thing they are trying to satisfy themselves with, be that sex, alcohol or drugs, usually create problems of their own. These can include physical health problems, relationship troubles and money struggles.

If you can’t go a day without something, if you feel that something has control over you when you should have control over it, it could be an addiction.

How Is Addiction Cured?

Addiction isn’t a terminal condition. There are many ways to deal with the problem, and many people who suffer addiction sufferers go on to live fulfilling, free lives.

If you are worried you may be suffering from addiction, a good place to start is by going to your GP. They will help you discuss your problems, and may offer you treatment, or refer you to a local support service. A lot of the time addiction is treated with a combination of therapy and medication, but this will depend on your particular needs.

If you’re worried about drug abuse and dependency in yourself, a family member or a friend, you can get friendly, confidential advice and information at Talk To Frank, which has a live chat service, and a hotline.

One common path to overcoming addiction is the ’12 steps programme’, which was created by alcoholism support network Alcoholics Anonymous. There are lots of support groups across the country using the 12 steps to treat a variety of addictions.

Addicts can find peace

How Can I Access Help?

If you need help or want to understand more, have a look at these links:



Counselling Directory

Talk to Frank 

Russell Brand’s book Recovery outlines his interpretation of the 12 steps programme. You can read my review and how it helped me here.

Read More 

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