Public Policy Statement: Definition of Addiction
Short Definition of Addiction:
Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviours.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioural control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviours and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”
“Genetic factors account for about half of the likelihood that an individual will develop addiction. Environmental factors interact with the person’s biology and affect the extent to which genetic factors exert their influence. Resiliencies the individual acquires (through parenting or later life experiences) can affect the extent to which genetic predispositions lead to the behavioural and other manifestations of addiction. Culture also plays a role in how addiction becomes actualized in persons with biological vulnerabilities to the development of addiction.
Other factors that can contribute to the appearance of addiction, leading to its characteristic bio-psycho-socio-spiritual manifestations, include:
- The presence of an underlying biological deficit in the function of reward circuits, such that drugs and behaviours which enhance reward function are preferred and sought as reinforcers;
- The repeated engagement in drug use or other addictive behaviours, causing neuroadaptation in motivational circuitry leading to impaired control over further drug use or engagement in addictive behaviours;
- Cognitive and affective distortions, which impair perceptions and compromise the ability to deal with feelings, resulting in significant self-deception;
- Disruption of healthy social supports and problems in interpersonal relationships which impact the development or impact of resiliencies;
- Exposure to trauma or stressors that overwhelm an individual’s coping abilities;
- Distortion in meaning, purpose and values that guide attitudes, thinking and behaviour;
- Distortions in a person’s connection with self, with others and with the transcendent (referred to as God by many, the Higher Power by 12-steps groups, or higher consciousness by others); and
- The presence of co-occurring psychiatric disorders in persons who engage in substance use or other addictive behaviours.
Addiction is characterized by:
- Inability to consistently Abstain;
- Impairment in Behavioural control;
- Craving; or increased “hunger” for drugs or rewarding experiences;
- Diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviours and interpersonal relationships; and
- A dysfunctional Emotional response.”
The Fellas (Friends of Alcoholics Anonymous)
See also Links and downloads
PS For AA Minority Report 2013 click here