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MAIN Arrow to Health Health Arrow to Addictions Addictions

While addiction may be looked down upon in many Western societies, it is a fascinating subject of discussion that encompasses personality, the mysteries of the brain, and the vagaries of the human heart.

The first thing that usually comes to mind when we hear the world addiction is illegal drugs, like crystal meth, cocaine, or heroin.

However, addictive behavior is not limited only to drug abuse.

Alcoholism, prescription painkillers, eating disorders, caffeine, smoking, work, gambling, shopping,, and other less-recognized addictions have been recognized by the medical establishment..

Adding to the list in our modern wired world has been increased reports of Internet addiction to take its place beside the traditional forms of obsessive behavior. Whether addictions are based on physical or psychological cravings, being habitually drawn to harmful feel-good experiences are sometimes difficult to eliminate without assistance.

Rehab centers, therapeutic communities, counseling and self help groups can provide a safe haven and necessary support for anyone trying to kick a self destructive habit. Twelve step therapies, like AA or Gambler's Anonymous are among the options, but there are other alternatives to help with recovery.

Hypnosis works for some, but not for others. Sometimes, an effected person may simply outgrow an addiction using self-discipline or newly discovered powers of will to overcome it.

No matter how an addiction is beaten, the first step in recovery say experts, is recognizing the problem.

Addictions - the pros and cons

Today addiction is considered a "brain disease" by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and other medical authorities, while other studies on the evolutionary origins of drug addiction illustrates that feel-good activities are sometimes just part of the human condition.

And, despite all of its negative connotations, addictive behavior can also have a positive effect.

The famous runner's high, for example, is due to brain chemicals called endorphins that are released after strenuous exercise which also may become highly addictive. Many non-smokers, in fact, have reported that kicking the smoking habit is often helped by running and exercise -- that is, by simply substituting one harmful addiction with a more beneficial one.

On the trail of a
"runners high."

Exercise may also play a part in satisfying the fight-or-flight response that some experts claim is at the very heart of addiction.

The addictive personality is one that is still highly-tuned to threats (whether real or imaginary) and running may be just another way to fend off a perceived sense of insecurity.

Meanwhile, work is not only a survival instinct but has evolved into a pleasurable experience for so-called "workaholics", along with artists, writers, and athletes who have reported being "in the zone" as they forget all their troubles while performing or concentrating at a task at hand.

Finally, what would the world be without love? Romance often involves words like "obsession" or phrases like "I can't live without you". Could romantic relationships be just another from of addiction wired into the human brain to sustain the species?

Addictions, indeed, are pleasurable. They only become harmful when the balance is tipped to threaten our careers, our personal relationships, or our survival.

More about addiction around the Web:


Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction - Check out extensive information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse with illustrated guides to addiction including how drugs work on the brain, how to prevent drug abuse, and treatment and recovery resources.

Intervention Center - Resources for both consumers and intervention professionals, with a FAQ, links for alcohol and drug rehab for loved ones or business colleagues, along with more on gambling and computer addictions.

OA - Overeaters Anonymous is patterned on the 12 step philosophy of AA. They have links to meeting online and off plus other good resources to help understand the problem and get the behavior under control.

Debtors Anonymous - It's called oniomania or Shopoholism - the compulsive urge to shop 'til you matter what your credit report or family have to say. If you have it, this group has answers.

Sex Addicts Anonymous - SAA, is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other so they may overcome their sexual addiction and help others recover from sexual addiction or dependency.

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.

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