Last updated: April 22, 2019

What Does Addiction Mean?

An addiction is a disorder of the brain that compels a person engage in certain behavior regardless of the consequences. Addiction is often associated with substance abuse, but can also involve physical or emotional behaviors. The addict's actions are driven by a neurochemical reward cycle that the substance use or behavior triggers in the individual's brain. Certain substances also have painful psychical withdrawal effects that further reinforce the addict's behavior.

The primary characteristics of addiction are an inability to stop engaging in the harmful activity or usage, a general lack of self-control, a craving for the substance or other focus of the addiction, and denial of the consequences of the addictive behavior.

A combination of factors may contribute to a person's likelihood to suffer from addiction. Scientists believe that there is a genetic foundation for some addictive behaviors. Environmental and cultural factors also play a role. Additionally, biological or neurological disorders may cause some individuals to be more susceptible to addiction.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Addiction

An addiction is a compulsion with neurological, emotional, and physical components. A person who is addicted (an addict) suffers from a chronic condition that may worsen over time. Those who have recovered from an addiction may also suffer relapses and require further treatment.

In the workplace setting, addiction may cause an employee to continue to use alcohol or drugs despite awareness of his or her employer's workplace drug testing policy. Individuals who suffer from addiction may qualify for some protection from discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA may prohibit an employer from discriminating against an individual who has or is currently participating in a drug or alcohol rehabilitation programs. However, this protection does not extend to those who are currently engaged in the illegal use of drug.


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