What is addiction?

MastHead Outline
September 7, 2021

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is defined as a treatable, chronic medical disease that involves complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, environmental factors, and a person’s life experiences. Those with addiction continue to compulsively misuse substances regardless of negative consequences, showing researchers that addiction involves changes in the brain that control judgment and behavioral control. 

The idea that addiction is simply a bad habit or bad character trait has become outdated. Science has discovered how prolonged drug use changes the brain causing people to experience intense cravings, drug-seeking behavior, and altered personality. Because this pattern has now been identified and recognized, addiction is more formally called substance use disorder, or SUD, among various medical fields to differentiate between those addicted to substances and those who have behavioral addictions. Using this term has also allowed more research to be conducted to create effective treatment options for SUD.