An addiction is a health disorder where you are unable to stop doing something that is causing harm to you or others.
The most common addictions are to alcohol, tobacco, drugs and gambling.
Addiction is often chronic, which means it goes on for a long time. It is also relapsing, meaning that you might go back to the addiction a few times on your path to recovery.
An addiction can take over your life, affecting your health, work, study, relationships and finances.
But addiction can be managed and you should expect to recover, even though it may take some time.
Types of addiction
People can develop an addiction to:
- prescription drugs (for example codeine and other painkillers, sedatives, sleeping tablets)
- street drugs (for example heroin, marijuana, methamphetamine, cocaine)
- solvents (for example sniffing paint-thinners, petrol or glue)
- activities like gambling, shopping, computer games, exercise or eating.
Signs and symptoms
At the start, you might start to notice problems with close relationships and your moods.
As addiction gets worse you might:
- need more to get the same effect
- have withdrawal symptoms or feel sick if you stop
- sometimes use more than you mean to
- prioritise the addiction over other things
- keep going even though you know it is bad for you or others you care about
- try to cut down but can’t.
If you are worried about yourself or someone you know, even if you aren't sure if the problem is ‘an addiction’, it’s important to seek help.
Get help early
The sooner you recognise a problem and get help, the easier it will be to recover. Don’t think that you have to hit rock bottom before seeing someone.
Get advice and help