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Addiction is a condition in which the body becomes reliant on a particular substance or activity in order to function properly. While the term “addiction” is most commonly used in reference to drug dependency, it can also be applied to other compulsions, including excessive gambling, Internet technology use and overeating.



There are countless forms of addiction, each with a considerable number of causes. The risk factors increasing the likelihood of developing an addiction, however, tend to be of a more general nature, and are known to include:

·         Genetics;

·         Gender, with men representing a considerably larger proportion of all people with addictions;

·         Peer pressure;

·         Nature of the substance/activity; and

·         Stress.


Symptoms and diagnosis

Signs of addiction include:

·         Inability to refrain from using the substance/partaking in the activity;

·         Physical and psychological (withdrawal) symptoms due to abstinence;

·         Denial of the addiction; and

·         Social, recreational and financial sacrifices.

To be clinically diagnosed with an addiction, a patient must conform to a set of criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association. The patient must meet at least three of the following:

·         Increased tolerance over time;

·         Withdrawal symptoms;

·         Difficulty in controlling the addiction;

·         Suffers negative consequences;

·         Neglecting or postponing other duties or activities;

·         Directing significant time, emotional or mental energy towards the addiction – e.g., attempting to conceal drug use; or

·         Desire, or past attempts, to contain addictive behaviours.



The first step of treatment for addiction involves an acknowledgement, on the individual’s part, that an addiction does, indeed, exist.

Treatment options for addiction will, of course, vary, depending on the nature of the addiction and how it impacts upon the patient. Typically, it will include a combination of:

·         In- and out-patient care;

·         Counselling;

·         Rehabilitation;

·         Participation in self-help groups; and

·         Medication.



Alternative Treatment Efficacy According to GRADE* Ranking:

Creative Art Therapy (Expressive Therapy)

Recomendation: Weakly in favor (Various studies have shown expressive therapy to help benefit the problem of addiction)

Grade of Evidence: very low quality of evidence


Recommendation: Weakly in favor (there is insufficient evidence to show that Meditation helps treat addictions)

Grade of Evidence: very low quality of evidence





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