Addiction is one of the most common mental health problems faced by people around the globe. This could be an addition to alcohol, nicotine or drugs. Addition usually begins in a person’s teenage years and if left untreated, may continue into adulthood. As with other health issues, addiction worsens with time and the later it is diagnosed, the harder it is to treat.
An addiction to alcohol is termed as alcoholism. In some cases, it can make the person drink heavily on a day to day basis. In others, it may cause binge drinking at regular intervals. In either case, the person cannot stay off alcohol for extended periods of time. Alcohol addiction is hard to recognize given the social acceptability of having a drink. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal and cause ulcers, bone loss, liver disease, an increased risk of cancer and suppressed immunity.
Like alcohol addiction, nicotine addiction is hard to spot given that people smoke openly. However, when a person cannot stop smoking even though he or she is aware of its ill effects, treatment needs to be sought. Nicotine dependence affects mood swings and has a physical effect on the body as well. It can cause anxiety, restlessness, frustration, loss of appetite, insomnia, constipation as well as heart disease and lung disease. It can also increase the person’s risk of suffering from cancer, infertility and respiratory infections.
This is the most serious of the three. Drugs can take many forms. Some are smoked while others are chewed or injected into the body. It is a misconception that drugs are common only amongst the lower rungs of society. Drug addiction can cause mood swings, social withdrawal, memory loss, shortened attention span, poor judgment and other such changes in behavior.
All forms of addiction can be prevented and treated. Thus, it is important to not ignore early signs of addiction and speak to the person concerned or his or her caregiver. In some cases, treatment can take the form of outpatient therapy while in others; the patient may need to stay in a treatment facility for a specific duration of time. Even after treatment, relapses are possible. Hence, the patient needs support from this family and friends. It is also important for the patient to continue therapy in some form or the other even after coming out of the treatment facility.