An addiction is a chronic disorder in which an individual is blinded by a substance, or engages in an activity, that gives them an immense amount of pleasure but has become detrimental to their everyday life. Compulsive behaviors and addictions can temporarily provide confidence, control, validation or other emotions lacking in one's life, but the behavior may not stop until the root of the problem is addressed.
Addiction changes the brain through the limbic system, also known as the "brain reward system." This part of the brain is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and will manifest thoughts such as "I deserve this," or "Let's do that again." The abuse of addictive substances and behaviors triggers this system which can prolong a continuous cycle of destructive behavior.
Common addictions include but not limited to: Drug and alcohol, shopping, gambling, food and sex. The individual may not be aware that the addiction is out of their control, which is why counseling is an essential part of working through this condition. An addiction of any sort can be exhausting and one should never go through the recovery process alone.
Many treatment plans focus on talk therapy and behavior therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and Mindfulness. Therapy can be performed in groups such as AA or NA as well as other 12 step programs as well as one-on-one sessions. During these sessions, patients analyze the reasons behind their addiction(s), what triggers are and what helped them control impulses in the past. Patients also learn coping skills so they can manage the compulsions without relapsing.