What is an addiction? According to American Society for Addiction Medicine addiction is a "brain disorder characterized by compulsive engagement in rewarding stimuli despite adverse consequences." When we think of addictions, there are mostly just couple of things we think about - addiction to drugs and addiction to alcohol. As these seem to be the main ones that we ever hear about. But addiction being a "a disease in which a person finds themselves unable to stop using a substance or engaging in a behavior," you can be addicted to pretty much anything. You might need a drug rehab to get over your addiction to cocaine, but you might also need help with sex addiction, nicotine, gambling, overeating, technology, or pretty much anything else. Of course, different addictions require different kind of treatment, but in essence they might not actually be as different as you initially thought.

What causes different addictions? Or are they different at all? Our columnist, late Julian I. Taber, Ph.D., wrote in his Addictions Anonymous article series that "there is only one disorder that underlies all the different addictions." He called it Addictive Response Pattern. What he meant by that is that if you only focus on one addiction at a time you increase the risk of substitute addictions.

Can there be positive addictions?

Some time ago I would have said that of course - if you're addicted to exercising, or reading books or something else we consider a positive thing, being addicted to that can't be bad, right? But unfortunately, after something really becomes an addiction it usually starts to interfere with your life. Reading so many books that you forget to go to work, or overexercising or ... these will all have negative impact on your life.

And although you might say that there are many positive things in life that you can do over and over - as long as they don't have any negative consequences, they don't actually qualify as addictions. They are just habits.

While this view has fortunately started changing, many people still look at addictions as weaknesses. But is it really weakness that brings on addictions? Simple answer is no. Anyone can develop an addiction - addiction does not discriminate between the color of our skin, our age, IQ, or social class. Even pop artists have recorded lots of songs about addictions, often about their own experiences. You can have all the money in the world, but that doesn't mean you can't have the same problems as your neighbor.