What makes a person addicted

Stories to get started:

"She behaved completely differently than before"

Sometimes my mother was incredibly sad, then she would open a bottle of wine in the evening when the others were already in bed and my father was still at work. At first I didn't think anything of it. Lots of people drink something from time to time, and I didn't immediately think that my father would drink too much. But at some point she always got so weird when she had drunk a lot. Then I had school out early, it was only 11 o'clock or so and she had already had a drink. That would happen again and again in the afternoons and on weekends when my father was at work. Sometimes I would pick up my siblings from kindergarten, cook for them and take them to the playground.

I wanted to relieve my mother more because I had the feeling that we children were giving her too much work and that is why she was drinking. But nothing changed. At first my father didn't notice anything, he was never there. At some point he asked me if Mom sometimes drinks too much. I then said no.

But at some point he found out. From then on, my parents often argued about it. But it didn't get better, just worse. Sometimes I didn't recognize my mother anymore. She behaved completely differently than before, was no longer so patient, always snotty and I had the feeling that she no longer had fun doing something with me and my siblings. I didn't want to take friends home with me either, for fear that they might notice that my mother had had a drink. That was too embarrassing for me. Sometimes I got so worried that I couldn't sleep at night.

Much later, my mother talked to me and told me that she really did drink too much alcohol. And that she wants to do something about it. She then went to the hospital and did weaning therapy. She hasn't been drinking for weeks now. She is doing more for herself again and somehow I see her laughing more often. But she also says that sometimes it is still difficult for her and she does not know whether she will make it. I'm just glad she looked for help and somehow I think that things are going up with her.

"My father lost his job and is always hanging around at home"

I can't even remember what it's like to have a dad who doesn't use drugs. He does it again and again. Mostly on the weekend, sometimes during the week. When I was a child, I noticed that something was wrong, but I was still too young to understand what was wrong with my father. But sometimes he was so absent, sometimes really unfriendly. Then I had the feeling that he couldn't love me at all if he was to me like that. When my father was annoyed with me, he would yell at me. My mother then sent me away. I should leave him alone, he was so stressed, she said. And often she would go out with me. Then I sometimes wondered if I was a burden for him. Afterwards he usually apologized for it, and sometimes I even received a big gift as a consolation. That still irritated me. It often happened that I couldn't sleep properly at night and then couldn't get out of bed in the morning. Things got worse and worse with my father: he lost his job and always hung around at home when I got home from school. My mother then took care of everything: me, the money, and the housekeeping ... That messed her up. She kept telling him to stop doing it and to destroy everything. But nothing happened. At some point she said to him that she couldn't take it anymore, that she was going to take me with her. Then we moved out. I now sometimes see my father on weekends. But it often happens that he just doesn't come, even though we had an appointment. And again and again he promises me that he will stop using drugs. But he hasn't tried it yet.

ICD-10 criteria of addiction

To be “addicted”, or also to be dependent, means that you cannot do without certain substances, such as alcohol or drugs, on a regular basis. Addiction is an illness that causes the addict to push other things, including important things, into the background, for example in order to be able to take alcohol or drugs. Addiction changes people. Depending on the means, even so much that he then does things that he would otherwise not do and often regrets later.

For diagnosis (diagnosis of a disease by a doctor) the World Health Organization (WHO) has established so-called ICD 10 criteria, of which at least three must have occurred in the last 12 months so that one can decide that someone is addicted:

  • There is a strong desire or even compulsive desire to consume, i.e. the feeling that you can no longer get along without alcohol or the drug.
  • There is a reduced ability to control the beginning, the end and the amount of consumption, i.e. if the person concerned plans to stop using or to consume less, this will not necessarily succeed.
  • The occurrence of physical withdrawal syndrome, i.e. H. If the addictive substance is omitted, the body sends out symptoms, e.g. sleep disorders, restlessness or pain. As soon as the substance is taken again, these symptoms will go away. In the clinic, these signs are also referred to as physical withdrawal symptoms.
  • Use of the substance with the aim of alleviating withdrawal symptoms and the corresponding positive experience, i.e. the person concerned has made the experience that the withdrawal symptoms that occur are alleviated or disappear completely when the substance is taken again.
  • A tolerance can be proven, i.e. the amount with which the person concerned has started is no longer sufficient because the body has already become too used to the addictive substance. Since the need to achieve a certain effect is in the foreground, the person concerned increases the amount of the addictive substance more and more.
  • Other pleasures or interests are increasingly neglected in favor of substance use, i.e. the use of the substance is in the foreground and a lot of time is spent on getting the substance, ingesting it or recovering from the use. Family, friends, school, job or hobbies are neglected.
  • Consumption is continued in spite of clearly demonstrable harmful physical, social or psychological consequences, i.e. although the person concerned notices that the consumption of the substance has negative consequences, he continues.
  • Violation of social norms, i.e. because the dependency is so much in the foreground, is not very important for the person concerned that others disapprove of his behavior, for example drinking alcohol in the morning, having a "flag" or neglecting personal hygiene.

Physical addiction

Physical dependence means that the body has become so used to a substance that physical withdrawal symptoms occur when the substance is no longer used. Physical withdrawal symptoms can be, for example: restlessness, sweating, tremors, weakness, body aches, stomach cramps, muscle tremors, nausea, circulatory disorders, lacrimation, massive temperature fluctuations, up to life-threatening conditions with severe seizures and hallucinations. Physical withdrawal often peaks after 24-48 hours and only lasts for a few days. Withdrawal and its symptoms, however, depend on the addictive substance as well as the duration and amount of consumption.

Mental addiction

Psychological addiction describes the irresistible craving for a substance. Despite the negative effects associated with addiction, the decision is made in favor of the addictive substance. The person concerned believes that he absolutely needs the substance in order to cope with everyday life. Mental withdrawal often lasts for years. Mental withdrawal symptoms can be, for example: restlessness, nervousness, fears, depressive moods, perceptual disorders, psychoses, delirium or even thoughts of suicide.