Addiction results when an individual engages in an activity that leads to temporary feelings of pleasure followed by experiences of withdrawal. Addiction can be related to use of substances (alcohol, cannabis, nicotine, etc) or activities (gambling, sex, shopping, etc). The substance or activity may become an obsession and will interfere with one’s responsibilities (relationships, work, and health). In many cases, the individual may not know or realize they have a problem. In most cases an individual will realize that their addiction is problematic when they have already lost things that were once important to them.
Often individuals will experience the need to have a drug to avoid physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms. When an individual becomes dependent on the activity or substance it will dominate their life. Individuals that develop a tolerance, will feel the need to have larger and larger doses of the drug/activity to get the same effect. For example, what started as spending $20 on each shopping binge may quickly turn to a couple hundred in order to feel the pleasure.
In therapy, the individual will work towards decreasing their use of the substance/behavior and even abstain from it. Therapy will include working on identifying triggers and urges and underlying issues related to the addiction.