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what-is-addiction

What Is Addiction? | Opioid Addiction Treatment Services

Addiction is the compulsive, physiological need for and use of a habit-forming substance that the user knows to be physically, psychologically, or socially harmful.  Addiction is characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon cessation of abuse or the substance.

Substances that often lead to addiction include:

  • Street drugs or prescription pharmaceuticals
  • Nicotine
  • Alcohol

Addiction also comes in other forms and can be applied to certain behaviors that are carried out in excess:

  • Shopping
  • Dieting or overeating
  • Working
  • Drinking
  • Exercising
  • Smoking

Anyone can suffer from addiction.  Addiction knows no boundaries and affects individuals regardless of gender, race, religion, profession or social class.


Scientific advances over the past 20 years have shown that drug addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease of the brain that results from the prolonged effects of drugs on the nervous system.  In addition, addiction has embedded behavioral and psycho-social aspects that are important parts of the disease itself.  Thus, effective treatment must include physiological (i.e., medical) and psychological (i.e., behavioral) components.