Historically, addiction has been defined with regard solely to psychoactive substances (for example alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) which cross the blood-brain barrier once ingested, temporarily altering the chemical milieu of the brain.
Many people, both psychology professionals and laymen, now feel that there should be accommodation made to include psychological dependency on such things as gambling, food, sex, pornography, computers, video games, internet, work, exercise, idolising, watching TV or certain types of non-pornographic videos, spiritual obsession, cutting and shopping so these behaviors count as ‘addictions’ as well and cause guilt, shame, fear, hopelessness, failure, rejection, anxiety, or humiliation symptoms associated with, among other medical conditions, depression and epilepsy.
The related concept of drug addiction has many different definitions. Some writers give in fact drug addiction the same meaning as substance dependence, others for example provide drug addiction a narrower meaning which excludes drugs without evidence of tolerance or withdrawal symptoms.
The American Society of Addiction Medicine has this definition for Addiction; 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 the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. Addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships. Like other chronic diseases, addiction involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.
According to the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), substance dependence is defined as:
Substance dependence can be diagnosed with physiological dependence, evidence of tolerance or withdrawal, or without physiological dependence.
DSM-IV substance dependencies:
The term addiction is also sometimes applied to compulsions that are not substance-related, such as problem gambling and computer addiction. In these kinds of common usages, the term addiction is used to describe a recurring compulsion by an individual to engage in some specific activity, despite harmful consequences, as deemed by the user himself to his individual health, mental state, or social life.
For the complete article, please follow this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Addiction