Addiction

A condition that results from ingesting alcohol or drugs such as opioid painkillers or engaging in an activity such as gambling that becomes compulsive and interferes with work, relationships or health. Addiction not only can make a person crave more of a given substance, but also can increase anxiety levels when that person is not using. It can also alter the function of the frontal lobe, making it more difficult to recognize the harm addiction is causing. Risk factors for addiction include having a genetic predisposition toward it as well as growing up in a household with an alcoholic, being sexually abused or experiencing emotional trauma.

Treating addiction may have many components but generally includes both medication and behavior therapy. Methadone (Dolophine) and buprenorphine (Cizdol, Subutex, Suboxone) both suppress symptoms during withdrawal and diminish cravings. Naltrexone (Revia, Vivitrol) blocks the rewarding effects of both opiates and alcohol. Disulfiram (Antabuse) interferes with the metabolism of alcohol, causing very unpleasant symptoms such as flushing, nausea, and palpitations if the patients drinks. Cognitive behavior therapy is used to help recovering patients recognize, avoid and deal with situations in which they are likely to abuse drugs or alcohol. Some people find 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) helpful.

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