• Has your addiction destroyed many parts of your life?
  • Do you feel helpless to control your cravings?
  • Have you lost important people due to your addiction?
  • Are you ready to make a change?
Addiction Psychologist Arizona

Addiction is a complex and often misunderstood issue that affects millions of people worldwide. It can take many forms, from substance abuse to gambling and even technology addiction. Understanding the causes and symptoms of addiction is an important step in helping those who struggle with it.

Understanding Addiction: What Is It?

Addiction is a chronic and often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. It is characterized by changes in the brain’s reward, motivation, and memory circuits, which can lead to intense cravings and a loss of control over drug use. Addiction can take many forms, including substance abuse, gambling, and even technology addiction. It is a complex issue requiring a comprehensive treatment and recovery approach.

Breaking Down Addiction: Types, Causes, and Symptoms

Addiction is the inability to abstain from an addictive substance or behavior and causes an interference with normal daily functioning. Problems in relationships, work, school, and other social functions are common as the addiction takes over one’s life. Addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission, which is found with other chronic diseases.

Addiction refers to several chronic diseases involving the mind and body. Traditionally, addiction was primarily related to alcohol and substance dependence (heroin, painkillers, amphetamines, benzodiazepines, etc.). Today, however, addiction includes sexual compulsion, pornography, internet, food, and gambling. All of these connect brain reward, learning, memory, and motivation. In addition, psychological and social factors influence the addictive process. The term “biopsychosocial” refers to the connection between all these processes.

The idea that addiction is a problem with willpower has long been debunked. We now know that addiction involves behavioral, cognitive, emotional, genetic, and neurological domains.

Behavioral: When someone is addicted, they will typically spend excessive amounts of time engaging in the addiction. Much of this time is spent planning for the next “high.” For instance, many individuals addicted to heroin will spend their whole day seeking out their preferred drugs or engaging in activities to acquire money to purchase drugs.

Cognitive: Cognitive refers to thought processes. For the addicted individual, there is an excessive preoccupation with substance use. Additionally, thinking associated with a particular addiction is often distorted. For instance, an individual with a severe gambling addiction might deny that their gambling behavior caused near bankruptcy.

Emotional: Addiction often “co-occurs” with other emotional issues, such as anxiety and depression. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) reported that 8.9 million adults have a co-occurring mental health disorder.

Genetics: For most individuals, genetic factors contribute to approximately half the likelihood that an addiction will develop. Despite the strong genetic influence, however, environmental influences, such as childhood upbringing and cultural factors, have a strong impact and can interact with how genes are expressed.

Neurological: The frontal cortex of the brain connects with other brain circuits of reward, motivation, and learning to impair impulse control, alter judgments, and drive reward-seeking behaviors. The sought after “high” comes from certain chemicals that activate in the brain. Given that the frontal cortex does not fully develop until young adulthood, this can harm adolescents who become addicted.

Types of Addiction: Substance and Behavioral

Addiction can take many forms, but it is generally categorized into two main types: substance addiction and behavioral addiction. Substance addiction involves using drugs or alcohol, while behavioral addiction involves compulsive behaviors such as gambling, gaming, or shopping. Both types of addiction can have severe consequences and require professional treatment. It is essential to recognize the signs and symptoms of addiction and seek help if you or a loved one are struggling.

Causes of Addiction: Genetics, Environment, and Trauma

Addiction is a complex issue that can be caused by various factors. Genetics can play a role in addiction, as some individuals may be more predisposed to addictive behaviors due to their genetic makeup. Environmental factors, such as exposure to drugs or alcohol at a young age, can also contribute to addiction. Trauma, such as physical or emotional abuse, can also increase the risk of addiction. It is important to understand the underlying causes of addiction to treat and overcome it effectively.

Symptoms of Addiction: Physical, Behavioral, and Psychological

Addiction can manifest in various ways, and the symptoms can be physical, behavioral, and psychological. Physical symptoms of addiction can include changes in appetite, sleep patterns, and weight loss or gain. Behavioral symptoms can include secrecy, lying, and changes in social circles. Psychological symptoms can include mood swings, anxiety, and depression. It is important to recognize these symptoms and seek help if you or someone you know is struggling with addiction.

Seeking Help: Treatment Options for Addiction

Seeking help for addiction is a brave and important step toward recovery. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, Dr. Mazzei is here to help.

Due to the involved and complex connection of addiction, addiction treatment can be incredibly complicated. Comprehensive treatment addressing these areas can lead to the best recovery outcome. Outpatient addiction therapy with Dr. Mazzei can help you overcome your addiction. Dr. Mazzei is an addiction expert and psychologist with years of experience helping many people.

How Dr. Mazzei Can Help You

If you are suffering from an addiction, or if you would like to talk to someone more about how Dr. Mazzei can help you, follow these simple steps:

  1. Text today at (480) 448-6755 or email us for a consultation
  2. Or, you can book directly online with Dr. Mazzei
  3. Begin your journey towards a fulfilling and healthier life

Dr. Mazzei offers in-person treatment in Chandler, AZ, and online addiction therapy for Arizona, Illinois, Tennessee, and PSYPACT residents.