Recovery Video: What is Addiction? (With Transcript)




The goals of this video

The goals of this video are:
To give you a useful definition of addiction.
To explain a simple test, that can help you decide if you have an addiction.
To clear up some false ideas about addiction.
Finally, to explain the causes of addiction.
And hopefully, to make it easier for you to ask for help, if you need it.

A simple definition of addiction

Let’s start, with a simple definition of addiction.
A drug or alcohol addiction has two basic qualities.
You sometimes have difficulty controlling how much you use.
And, you continue to use despite negative consequences.

Warning Signs

What are some of the warning signs to look for?
Addiction starts out feeling great.
The negative consequences happen later.
It’s usually, your relationships that suffer first.
You become irritable and impatient.
Other areas of your life aren’t affected – in the beginning.
Gradually, your addiction grows.
You feel guilty about your use the next day.
In your sober moments, you wonder if there is something wrong.
But you keep telling yourself, it’s not going to get worse.
Eventually, along with the guilt, you start to feel an emptiness.
In order to continue using, you begin to hide behind secrets, which makes you feel even more empty.

A Simple Test

Here is a simple test to help you decide if you have an addiction.
Do you sometimes feel Guilty about your drug or alcohol use afterwards?
Do you sometimes minimize your drug or alcohol use to others?
When people ask about your use, do you sometimes feel Annoyed?
Have you ever thought you should Cut down, but have been successful only temporarily?

Your score

Here, are the facts.
If you answered yes to just one of those questions, there is already a 75% chance you have an addiction.
If you answered yes to two of them, there is an 85% chance.
And if you answered yes to all three, there is an 95% chance you have an addiction.

How common is addiction?

How common is addiction?
Roughly 10 percent of people meet the criteria for a chemical addiction.
It can happen to anybody.
10 percent of lawyers. 10 percent of plumbers. 10 percent of CEOs have an addiction.
It doesn’t discriminate.
The plumber and the CEO, may have different drugs of choice.
But their behaviors are the same.

False Ideas About Addiction

What are some false ideas about addiction?
It not only helps to know what addiction is,
it also helps to know what addiction is not.
So that, you can’t fool yourself into thinking, you don’t have a problem, if you actually do.

You don’t have to use every day

First, you don’t have to use every day to have an addiction.
There is nothing in the definition about how often you use.
You could use once a week or once a month.
But if when you use, you sometimes have difficulty controlling it,
and you continue to use despite negative consequences,
then you have an addiction.

You don’t have to have cravings

Second, you don’t have to have cravings to have an addiction.
You don’t have to want a drink in the morning to have an addiction.
Some people think about using all the time, others almost not at all.
Some people only recognize their cravings just before they relapse.

It doesn’t matter how easy it is to go without using

Third, addiction is not about how easy it is to go without using drugs or alcohol.
Addiction is about how difficult it is to stop once you start using.
Finally, and most importantly.

Your life doesn’t have to be a mess

Your life doesn’t have to be in trouble, for you to have an addiction.
When your life is in trouble, you have started to cross the line from functioning addict to non-functioning addict.
There are lots of successful, high functioning individuals who also have an addiction.
Addiction is progressive.
It gets worse over time.
Bigger consequences could be waiting just around the corner.
There is never a better time to stop than now.

The Causes of Addiction

What are the causes of addiction?
Addiction is 50 percent due to genes,
and 50 percent due to poor coping skills.
You can’t do anything about your genes.
But you can change your coping skills.

Coping skills

Why do people use drugs or alcohol?
They use to escape, relax, or reward themselves.
Those are essential coping skills.
Everybody needs to be able to do them in order to be happy.
But addicts have forgotten how. Or, maybe you never learned how.
Either way, this is your chance to develop better coping skills.


I want to leave you with one important thought.
Your genes, are not your destiny.
Many people have come from addicted families or stressful families,
but still managed to overcome their past and live happy lives.
You can change your life.
Many people have done it before.
You can too.

Last Modified:May 31, 2021