What Is Addiction and Is This Mental Illness?

In recent years, addiction has been increasingly understood as a mental health issue. The American Psychiatric Association classifies addiction as a Substance Use Disorder in the DSM-V, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse defines addiction as a “brain disease.” 

This is because addiction is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite negative consequences. Addiction is often referred to as a “disease of the brain” because addiction changes the structure of areas of the brain that are responsible for managing reward, learning and habit formation.

Why do people use drugs?

People use drugs for many reasons. Some substances, like caffeine and nicotine in smoking, can make people feel more alert or less hungry and may become addictive in some people (though addiction to substances like caffeine is not as dangerous). Many drugs like morphine, heroin, and cocaine make people feel good because they block pain signals sent to the brain or produce intensely pleasurable effects by acting on the brain’s reward system. 

The potential for addiction exists in all people who use these mood-altering substances, and addiction is especially likely when people take more than they are supposed to when they take the drug in a way other than how it is prescribed (such as crushing and snorting a painkiller tablet), or when they use drugs to get high instead of using them for medical reasons.

How Does Addiction Change Your Brain?

According to addiction psychiatrist Mark Sheely, MD addiction is a “chronic brain disease” and goes on to explain that addiction is not just about addiction to substances such as alcohol or drugs, but can also be an addiction to behaviours such as gambling, sex or food.

In addition, the reward centre of the brain becomes overstimulated by addiction drugs or addictive behaviours. Through addiction, the pleasure centre of the brain becomes overdeveloped and the person has an increased desire to seek out addiction behaviours even when faced with negative consequences.

Addiction is often characterized by overwhelming cravings for addictive substances or addictive behaviours despite these negative consequences, which can eventually take over a person’s life. This is why addiction is often described as a progressive condition. If addiction is not treated, it can get worse over time, and the addiction becomes harder to ignore or overcome.

As addiction progresses in severity, addiction behaviours become compulsive. Addiction behaviours that were originally an option or choice eventually start to feel like a necessity that cannot be ignored or refused.

So, is addiction a mental illness?

Well, addiction is classified as a mental health condition by the DSM-V. The APA defines addiction as a “substance use disorder” which is defined as a “disorder characterized by maladaptive patterns of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress.” This addiction is a mental health condition, as addiction has been classified as a mental health disorder by the APA.

In addition to being linked to changes in brain structure and function, addiction has been linked to other medical conditions as well. Addiction is often associated with self-destructive behaviours such as unprotected sex or sharing needles.

These self-destructive addiction behaviours can contribute to or worsen health conditions such as HIV, hepatitis C and various sexually transmitted infections (STIs). These dangers of addiction are why addiction is often referred to as a “disease with complications.”

So, addiction is not only a mental illness but addiction is also dangerous.

How Does Addiction Change Your Brain?

Addiction is a brain disease that changes the way your brain functions. When you’re addicted to drugs or alcohol, your brain becomes used to the presence of the substance and starts to rely on it to function normally. This is what causes addiction cravings and addiction withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit.

What Are the Signs of Addiction?

If you’re worried that you or someone you know may be addicted to drugs or alcohol, there are certain signs to look for. addiction mental illness addiction is a mental health issue addiction Signs of addiction include:

  • Using drugs or alcohol more often than intended or in harmful ways
  • Craving drugs or alcohol, or feel like you need them to function
  • Have trouble controlling your drug or alcohol use
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you try to quit
  • Ignoring important responsibilities because of drug or alcohol use
  • Continuing to use drugs or alcohol even though it’s causing problems in your life


Is addiction a mental health disability?

The short answer is yes, addiction is a mental health disability, and it’s classified as such in the DSM-V.

What is the connection between addiction and mental health?

The short answer is that addiction and mental health are intimately connected. addiction is a mental illness, and addiction can cause or worsen mental health conditions.

What type of disease is addiction?

Addiction is a brain disease. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) both define addiction as a “brain disease,” and the criteria of the DSM-V list for classifying addiction as a mental health condition called “Substance Use Disorder.”

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