What is addiction?

Sure, addiction is a scary word. But understanding the meaning of addiction might help you understand why your drug use has had a negative impact on your life.


Drug addiction is generally characterised by an overwhelming desire or compulsion to continue taking a drug, despite the negative impact on the user’s life.

Drug addiction is progressive in nature (which means it will get worse over time) which is why it is so important to seek help as soon as possible. Many New Zealanders use drugs of some description. Some move on to drug abuse, a level of use which is severe enough to cause distress. And some of those people end up drug dependent.

There’s physiological dependence, where your body craves increased amounts of a substance to maintain the desired effect and suffers withdrawals if you do not have it. The withdrawal symptoms are worse for some drugs (alcohol and opiates) than others (cannabis and methamphetamine).

Then there’s psychological dependence. This is the pattern of behaviour which leads to habitual use. This is also the mindset whereby a user will go to great lengths (often illegal) to secure continued supply.

Drug dependence can be physiological, psychological, or both.

It will take considerable effort to stop using drugs. Some people are successful on their first attempt to give up drugs; some relapse several times. It may take more than one attempt to be successful but stick at it.

It’s important to know recovery from addiction is an ongoing process, rather than a one-off event. Successful recovery means creating a new life where it’s easier to not use. It’s about maintaining freedom from drugs.

You are stronger than you ever imagined. You can do this, and it’ll be so worth it. In fact, by coming to this site, you’ve already made a start.

AddictionAddiction takes over your life, but with a bit of help you can get it back.

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Because I was addicted from the get-go. It’s very addictive. Some people probably could’ve put it down but I couldn’t. It ruins your life and it runs your life.

Prue