Addiction is a chronic, progressive, primary illness with genetic, psycho/social and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestation. 

However, when most people think of addiction, they typically think of drugs, alcohol or some other mood-altering substance.  Addiction, however, include process or behavioural addiction such as gambling, sex, work, shopping or other behaviours or activities.

People who are addicted cannot control their need for alcohol, drugs, behaviour or activity, even in the face of negative health, social or legal consequences.  

No one wants to be an addict but this does not stop people from becoming addicted.  It is important to understand that the addictive substance or behaviour is basically a pain killer.  It chemically kills physical or emotional pain and alters the mind’s perception of pain.  It makes you numb.  For this to happen a person must have some underlining trauma, unhappiness, sense of hopelessness or physical pain.

Addiction grows more serious over time.  Substance use disorders travel along a continuum.  This progression can be measured by the amount, frequency and context of a person’s substance use.  As their illness deepens, addicted persons need more alcohol or other drugs; they may use more often, and use in situations they never imagined when they first began to drink or take drugs.  The illness becomes harder to treat and the related health problems, such as an organ disease, become worse.