Addiction : The American Medical Society

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The American Medical Society (AMA) declared addiction to alcohol to be an illness in 1956. Prior to 1956, addiction was stigmatized as a moral failure or weakness of character. You can read a fascinating historical review of addiction evolving from a moral failure to an illness at
There is no one “best” definition of addiction. The American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse define addiction in somewhat different ways, although their definitions do not differ significantly.
The most comprehensive definitions are from the American Society of Addiction Medicine ( and The National Institute
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She stole from family and shoplifted to pay for the heroin. When desperate, she would trade sex for drugs. Kimberly eventually developed a septic (blood) infection from injecting heroin that required a lengthy hospitalization with IV antibiotics.
• Raymond injected heroin for over a year. He gradually increased the dose because the highs became less intense over time. When he could not score heroin and was three days suffering from intense withdrawal symptoms, he purposefully broke one of his fingers so he could get a prescription for painkillers from the emergency department.
• James was prescribed a long-acting painkiller for chronic back pain after a severe injury. However, James also liked the high. He used more than his physician ordered, and would buy them on the street when he ran out. When using, he became the life of the party. He went through an inheritance of over $100,000 in just twelve months, spending most of the money to buy drugs and alcohol for himself and his “friends.” He would experience withdrawal symptoms when he ran out of opioids. When he complained of severe abdominal pain and noted a yellowish tint to his eyes, his physician diagnosed acute liver failure due to both the acetaminophen in the painkillers and excessive use of alcohol.
• Terrance bought painkillers from Mexico through an online website. He would stare out the window waiting for the delivery truck, getting a buzz just thinking about
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