According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use.
It is characterized by the inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involved cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in permanent disability and premature death.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5, states that a substance use disorder is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues using the substance despite significant substance-related problems. Examples of these problems could be: incarcerations, loss of job, loss of relationships, difficulty maintaining housing, inability to maintain good grades in school, loss of friendships, and reduction in overall functioning, loss of motivation to attend to hygiene, etc.