An addiction is a compulsive, repeated behavior characterized by a complete loss of control and an overwhelming desire to act regardless of harmful consequences that may take place. When we speak of addiction, we mean that the behavior is causing harm, either to self and/or to others, and that the person doing it has no meaningful control over it. It is a powerful, undeniable compulsion, and happens over and over again.
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Addictions hurt everyone involved and are devastating to the lives they effect. The person addicted may be in total denial, feeling that he or she doesn’t have a problem. Or that person may feel completely helpless, and with each repeated act, his or her self-worth falls lower and lower. Addicts lose touch with reality and their relationships in life crumble. They often suffer from multiple other life traumas and unresolved problems that bury themselves behind an outward expression of compulsion. Additionally, loved ones of the addict suffer immensely as they watch helplessly, not knowing what to do. While they love the individual addicted, they are torn between two worlds: one is the person they used to know and love, the other is the self-absorbed addict who seems to care for little else other than the next fix. They often see two different people and have to remind themselves that the addicted person, who seems like a stranger to them, is still the same person they used to know before the addiction. Many families have been destroyed from addictive behavior.
Addictions take on many forms. Virtually any kind of behavior has the potential to be an unhealthy addiction. However, there are some well-recognized types of addictions that make up the bulk of addictions counselling- drug and alcohol (substance addiction), gambling, sexual addictions, and gaming / internet addictions.