Addiction is a strong mental and physical dependence on, most commonly, a drug or other substance. Some substances that can lead to addiction are alcohol, illegal drugs, some prescription medicines, inhalants (such as spray paint), and nicotine.
A person who has an addiction, depending on how severe the illness is, may have two or more of the following symptoms:
Needing more and more of the drug or substance to have the same effect, or getting less effect from the same amount of the drug or substance over time (tolerance)
Being unable to stop using the drug or substance without having uncomfortable symptoms (withdrawal symptoms)
Taking the drug or substance in larger amounts or over a longer period of time than was intended
Being unable to cut down or control use of the drug or substance or having the persistent desire to do so
Spending a lot of time getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the drug or substance
Not being able to meet obligations to family, job, or other activities because of drug or substance use
Continuing to use the drug or substance even though it is physically or psychologically harming the person
Having strong cravings for the drug or substance
Giving up important social, recreational, and job activities because of substance use
Using even though it may be hazardous to the person or others
Continuing to use even though problems are made worse or caused by the substance
The tendency to have addiction problems can be passed from parents to their children (inherited). This tendency often is accompanied by mental health problems, such as depression.