Drug & Addiction InformationMiscellaneous

What Is Addiction?

What Is Addiction?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) Substance Abuse Criteria created by the American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as the pattern of behavior or substance use leading to 3 of the 7 following occurrences over the course of a 12-month period: 



  • 1. Tolerance defined by a diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of the drug and a need for increased amounts of a substance to achieve the desired effect.
  • 2. Withdrawal charactered by negative side effects after discontinued use of the drug, leading to continued use to relieve withdrawal symptoms.
  • 3. If the substance is taken in larger doses or for longer periods of time than originally intended.
  • 4. Persistent desire to cut down on the use of the substance.
  • 5. Extended periods of time spent in an effort to obtain the drug or substance and using the substance.
  • 6. Important activities such as jobs or social events are discontinued or foregone because of the substance.
  • 7. Use is continued despite knowing the drug has caused or exacerbated significant physical or psychological damage.

What Are Addictive Behaviors?

Drugs like heroin and methamphetamine are not the only things that a person can become addicted to. Behaviors such as gambling and shopping can also be considered addictions. For example, when a person first starts shopping online, they may experience a rush of dopamine leading to a feeling pleasure and satisfaction from ordering just one item. However, over time the person may:



  • Escalate the original behavior to achieve the same original high.
  • Continue to shop even though their credit cards are overdue.
  • After discontinuing, experience a craving to shop again. 

Here we have met 3 of the criteria on the above list, and therefore can be considered an addictive behavior.