Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms

Addiction Overview

What is an addiction?
A person with an addiction has an emotional, psychological, or physical dependency on a given behavior. Drug and alcohol addiction are the two most common addictions that physicians treat. Both of these addictions interfere with the person's relationships, family life, and occupation. Over time, the toxic effects of a chemical, such as a drug or alcohol, can damage the brain, heart, liver, and nerves. Alcohol can cause scarring and irreversible damage to the liver, called alcoholic cirrhosis. Narcotic addiction can lead to irreversible kidney damage and kidney failure.

What are the symptoms of an addiction?
The symptoms of an addiction depend on the type of chemical dependency. Symptoms of alcohol addiction include alcohol craving, anxiety, inability to stop drinking, blackouts, loss of memory, anger, violence, insomnia, and paranoid behavior. Symptoms of drug addiction are similar to alcohol addiction, but may also vary with the type of drug that is being abused. Sedative drugs cause symptoms that are very different than stimulant drugs. Symptoms can be broken down into: symptoms of GHB, symptoms of hallucinogens, symptoms of narcotics, symptoms or sedatives, and symptoms of stimulants.

How does a doctor treat an addiction?
Treatment for an addiction depends on the underlying chemical dependency. Treatment for alcohol addiction requires the strict avoidance of alcohol, medications that suppress alcohol craving, alcoholism support groups, and psychological counseling. Treatment for drug addiction may include mental health counseling, support groups, social services, drug detoxification, and medications to control the symptoms of drug withdrawal.

Continue to Addiction Symptoms

Last Updated: Aug 23, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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