What is Addiction?
Anything that you cannot stop doing by simply using your will is an addiction. Anything that controls and rules you, is an addiction – that thing is your Lord. The word Lord means “master or ruler of”. God the Father is not your Lord and Master because the thing you have become addicted to is your master. There are obvious addictions such as alcoholism, smoking, drugs (both prescription and illegal drugs) and pornography. Then there are more subtle addictions such as food, gossip, ungodly relationships, television (especially soap operas!), going on spending binges and gambling. We can also make an addiction out of food and work. Addictions also run in family trees and can be inherited.
When it comes to substances such as alcohol, cigarettes and drugs, the medical field has certain criteria that define an addiction and help us as doctors to identify people who are addicts. This is important for us to be able to do because substances that people become addicted to cause many diseases and health complications. There is no point in trying to successfully treat for example a stomach ulcer or heart failure, if you don’t know that the person is a smoker and an alcoholic. Prescribing medicines for the stomach ulcer or heart failure is not going to work if the person continues to abuse alcohol and smoke cigarettes, which are the cause of the problem in the first place. The CAGE Questionnaire below is a quick screening test to find out if somebody is an alcoholic but it can also be applied to any other substance or drug:
C: Have you ever felt that you need to cut down on your drinking?
A: Have you ever felt annoyed or angry at family or friends for commenting on or criticizing your drinking?
G: Have you ever felt guilty or bad about your drinking?
E: Have you ever had to have a drink as an eye opener in the morning to calm your nerves and give you a boost for the day?
Two positive answers indicate an 80 to 95% probability that the person is an alcoholic. If the answer is yes to all 4 questions, the person is an alcoholic until proven otherwise.
TOLERANCE and WITHDRAWAL also indicate that a person is dependant or addicted to a substance:
Tolerance is when a progressively greater and greater amount of the substance is required to produce the desired pleasurable effect. Withdrawal is a characteristic pattern of symptoms that ensue when use of the substance is stopped and using the substance again leads to relief of the symptoms. For example, if an alcoholic does not have a drink for one to three days, the person will experience anxiety, anorexia (or loss of appetite), insomnia (can’t sleep at night), confusion, delirium, tremors in hands, tongue or eyelids, palpitations (when you feel your heart beating very fast), sweating, agitation and/or high temperatures and sometimes even seizures.
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