As already mentioned, there can also be an addiction to prescribed or non-prescribed medication. This is often referred to as a drug addiction rather than a classic drug addiction. It can have various causes, but most often it is chronic pain that is relieved with the help of the medication, or mental stress states from which the addictive substances mean a certain escape. Similar to alcohol addiction, drug addiction develops secretly as well as insidiously and is therefore only noticed late by the social environment or the treating physicians. In some cases, these even occur in combination, but addiction to medications can develop much more quickly, which is why even greater caution is advised when dealing with corresponding preparations.
The following are considered particularly dangerous with regard to addiction Painkillers, sedatives and sleeping pills. An estimated two million people in Germany are affected, and the number of unreported cases could be significantly higher. Particularly often, the drug addiction can be found in older people, because they have more health problems such as chronic pain and therefore more likely to come into contact with the tablets & Co. However, women are also more likely to reach for medication than addictive substances in difficult life situations. Whenever medications are taken for several weeks or even months, those affected, their social environment as well as the treating physicians should therefore be attentive. However, it is difficult to monitor use with non-prescription medications. Typical indications of a drug addiction are a constant increase in the dose, a regular fixation on the drug, i.e. it begins to determine everyday life, and taking it beyond the prescription or the actual problem.
The alarm bells should also ring if the medication is taken secretly, because then those affected often already know themselves (at least subconsciously) that they have an addiction problem. Since the abuse of medication can have all kinds of physical and psychological consequences, early intervention is also important in this case. The treating physician or family doctor can be the first point of contact for this. Together, the dose can then be slowly reduced in order to initiate physical withdrawal. However, psychological treatment should continue to take place under professional guidance, for example as part of therapy. In the case of a very pronounced mental or physical dependence, an inpatient stay may also be advisable. In order to minimize the risk of relapse, subsequent support is also important, as is co-treatment of any accompanying psychological problems that are often the cause of the drug abuse - or were caused by it. With such holistic treatment, the chances of recovery from drug addiction are good.
In addition to such substance-related addictions, in which a physical dependence (also) develops, there are so-called non-substance-related addictions, which represent a purely psychological dependence. This means at least that there is no need to fear such drastic consequences for physical health as, for example, in the case of nicotine, alcohol or drug addiction. Nevertheless, such addictions can also impair or even completely control life in many ways. Moreover, overcoming a psychological addiction is anything but easy, and since there is no abuse of substances, corresponding problems such as a gambling addiction are often taken lightly for a long time.
In the case of a gambling addiction, people feel a real compulsion to play games of chance. This can be a specific game or gambling in general - always hoping for the big win to make up for previous losses. Sooner or later, gambling addiction therefore leads to financial ruin and also has a negative impact on social as well as professional life. Typical warning signs include continuing to gamble despite high losses or, if the person affected is even already in debt. But also irritability on the subject or hiding one's own gambling habits are frequent alarm signals and the affected persons start to neglect everything else. Even withdrawal symptoms can occur with gambling addiction, because it works in the brain's reward system and disturbs impulse control there.
To prevent a gambling addiction, prevention is the best approach, which is why more and more (federal) states are Various projects launched have in place to combat a gambling addiction. This is true not only before it develops, but also those already addicted can find help in many ways. In addition, however, it is recommended to go to the doctor to initiate professional therapy. Physical withdrawal is not necessary for this type of addiction, but psychological treatment is certainly necessary in order to recognize the causes as well as addiction patterns and to break through them permanently. Various types of therapy have proven effective: individual psychotherapy, motivational therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. The therapists treating the patient must decide what is appropriate in each individual case. They must also consider whether outpatient therapy is sufficient or whether an inpatient stay is more promising. When treating a gambling addiction, the support of family and friends is also particularly important. In the case of debt, a debt counselor should also be consulted in order to bring the financial situation back into balance - which, of course, only makes sense if the person concerned does not relapse and thus fall back into financial ruin.
In principle, a psychological addiction to almost anything is possible, from shopping addiction to pornography addiction. However, media addiction has become a relatively new phenomenon. The reason for this is the increasing use of digital media, which even children and young people come into contact with nowadays. The risk of addiction therefore already exists at an extremely sensitive age, but media addiction can of course also affect adults. An estimated 220,000 children and young people are already affected - with a strong upward trend. Doctors are therefore alarmed and see parents in particular as having a duty to monitor their children's usage times when it comes to social media, gaming or the Internet in general.
However, it is difficult to implement this control in everyday life; after all, children are not under constant supervision. By adolescence at the latest, parents can often only estimate how much time their son or daughter spends with digital media. This makes it all the more important to watch out for specific warning signs in these cases as well: Even when the media are turned off, thoughts and conversations revolve only around this topic. Media consumption also becomes increasingly uncontrolled, and those affected react irritably when they are told to stop it or are asked about their addictive behavior. Attempts to reduce media use fail, and other areas of life such as friendships or obligations at school, work, etc. are increasingly neglected. Once again, concealment is also a clear warning sign and media addiction can lead to physical complaints such as sleep disorders or back pain. Anyone who discovers such signs in themselves, in other people or in their own children should therefore act early. At the beginning, limiting media consumption is often sufficient. However, if a tangible addiction has already developed, these attempts usually fail, as already mentioned.
Professional help in the form of therapy is then also necessary to overcome the media addiction. There are numerous offers of help for those affected or parents on the Internet, such as self-tests or lists of therapists. The pediatrician or family doctor is also a good first point of contact. In most cases, psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy is prescribed. Depending on the severity, this can take place on an outpatient or inpatient basis and as individual or group therapy. In addition, there are also alternative therapy approaches, especially for children, for example on a physical level, which can be useful in individual cases. For example, they can promote relaxation or sharpen sensory perceptions, thereby helping those affected to resist the pressure of addiction in everyday life. Another important factor for the long-term success of the therapy is a different way of organizing leisure time, in which the focus is no longer on the media, but on friends or sporting hobbies, for example. If this succeeds, the chances of curing media addiction are good at any age.