Addiction is a complex disease. It involves many factors including social, economic, genetic, environmental, psychological and biochemical mechanisms. The fundamental nature of addiction is a compulsive and uncontrollable craving, seeking and using of a substance for an intrinsic reward – even though the consequences may be negative. All addictive behavior is characterized by addictive stimuli that is reinforced, a force that increases the likelihood that the person will seek repeated exposure to them.
Some factors that makes addictions so complex is the multiple types of addictions, such as ingesting a substance such as alcohol, nicotine or drugs or engaging in an activity such as gambling, sex, shopping, or over eating. These stimuli are viewed as pleasurable but may become compulsive and therefore interferes in life’s responsibilities. These behaviors often come with negative consequences not taken into account by the addict who is usually not aware that their life is out of control.
The tangled and blurred world of addiction involves many non-dissectible factors and be difficult to research or analyze. One of these factors include a biochemical and neurotransmitter component that possibly can be treated with nutritional and lifestyle interventions.
The difficulty is that the disease must be analyzed individually, taking into account behavior and social influences. However, as health care professionals we can at least offer compassion, education, intervention and hope.