I am still enjoying writing about “Annoying Little Things”. It is like a summer romance – interesting and fun with low commitment.  In light of recent news, I am going to cheat on “Little Things” today and provide a few facts about addiction. Interesting that Betty Ford and Amy Winehouse died only two weeks apart. Ford’s life’s work was to combat addiction, while Winehouse’s was to live in a constant state of chemically-induced mind alteration. It is more than telling that Ford lived to 93 and Winehouse is dead at 27. And, if you compare the most recently taken pictures of each, remarkably, they look about the same age. Do you think Betty has been preparing Amy’s lock-down room in the Great Rehab Center in the sky? It may be harder for her to say “No, no, no,” with the big Guy overseeing things.

1. Addiction can be defined as a persistent, compulsive dependence on a behavior or substance. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a chronic disease rooted in a dysfunction in the circuitry of the brain that results in an individual pursuing reward or relief from certain substances or behaviors.

2. There are two general types. Substance addictions and process addictions. Substance addictions refer to a dependence on alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Process addictions refer to an addiction to things like gambling, shopping and eating.

3. Who is at risk for addiction? Anyone can develop an addiction problem but your risk increases if you are male, if you have a family history of addiction, if you suffer from other psychiatric illness like depression or anxiety, if you are lonely and lack a strong attachment to family and friends. In adolescents particularly, risk increases based on peer use of drugs and alcohol. There are certain drugs that are so addictive that trying them once can result in a physical dependence.

4. Symptoms of drug addiction – There are many manifestations of drug addiction that should raise an eyebrow. Of course, there are different symptoms depending on the type of drug but there are general signs for all types of addiction – needing to take the drug or drink every day (shoot!), continuing to use despite negative effects on your life or health and failing in attempts to stop. These apply for process addictions as well.

5. Complications of addiction – All addictions have a negative effect on a life and often on the lives of those around the person with the addiction. They can range from minor health issues to death, from problems in school and work to homelessness, from dysfunction in a family to complete isolation.

As you know if you read YesFive, I love my wine. Admittedly there were a couple of times when I have been over-served and have woken up in the morning wondering if there may be a teeny tiny problem. If you have ever felt this way about something you are taking or doing, there is a very simple diagnostic tool. Stop. If you can’t, you may want to look more closely. You don’t have to be as bad as Amy Winehouse, with one foot in the grave, to need help.

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