Which one is the best? Actually, there are several good ones. Read on.
Morse & Flavin's (RM Morse,DK Flavin JAMA, 1992 Am Med Assoc) definition of addiction represents the one traditionally utilized by treatment centers and substance abuse counselors. It is very good and touches all of the bases. Published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 68, No.8, Morse & Flavin defined addiction thusly (paraphrased for simplicity):
- Addiction is a primary, progressive, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by impaired control over use of the substance, preoccupation with the substance, use of the substance despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking.
The DSM IV (1994) relies on symptoms for its definition. The DSM says that addiction, or dependence, is present in an individual who demonstrates any combination of three or more of the following symptoms (paraphrased for simplicity), occurring at any time in the same 12-month period:
- Preoccupation with use of the chemical between periods of use.
- Using more of the chemical than had been anticipated.
- The development of tolerance to the chemical in question.
- A characteristic withdrawal syndrome from the chemical.
- Use of the chemical to avoid or control withdrawal symptoms.
- Repeated efforts to cut back or stop the drug use.
- Intoxication at inappropriate times (such as at work), or when withdrawal interferes with daily functioning (such as when hangover makes person too sick to go to work).
- A reduction in social, occupational or recreational activities in favor of further substance use.
- Continued substance use in spite of the individual having suffered social, emotional, or physical problems related to drug use.