What Is Addiction?

November 24, 2021

Dr. Ashish Bhatt explains what it means when someone has an addiction and how to identify the key characteristics.


Hi, this is Dr. Bhatt with AddictionCenter.com. I want to speak a few moments today about What Is Addiction. Currently we hear about many people suffering with substance use disorders throughout the world, especially here in America. And we talk about the word addiction. But what is it, what does it mean when somebody is addicted to a substance of abuse?

Addiction is classified by the American Society of Addiction Medicine as a brain disease. It actually is a disease of chronicity. It is something that involves memory, motivation, brain related circuitry, and ultimately the misuse of substances along a period of time. Often people who suffer with addiction, they’re identified with 5 key characteristics. And those are often easy to remember when you look at just the alphabet, A B C D and E.

A is the ability to abstain. Most people who suffer with addiction, they have difficulty stopping using drugs. They cannot stop using.

B, they often have a behavioral loss of control.

C, their cravings. Psychological and physical wanting, needing, having to have that substance of abuse to get high or escape some sort of pain.

D, the dysfunctional recognition of things going bad. Often when we suffer with addiction, we don’t recognize that these things are harming us and we continue to use.

And E is emotional dysregulation. Mood swings, ups and downs, anxiety, depression. Sometimes psychosis or even mania.

Drugs affect us in tremendous ways. So, hopefully this brief snapshot of addiction, looking at it as not a behavioral problem, not a moral deficit, but actually as a recognizable disease is a very important concept to understand.