Addiction and Substance Abuse

Addiction: is a chronic, often relapsing brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences to the addicted individual and to those around them. The difference between addiction and abuse is that in addiction the individual will experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms can be very unpleasant and range depending on the substance that is being used, this is why substance use can often accelerate as the individual attempts to get rid of unwanted withdrawal symptoms. Here’s an example of the range of withdrawal symptoms a person can experience: anxiety, depression, shakes, panic attacks, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, loss of appetite. You can really get the sense from this list that the breadth of different withdrawal symptoms a person can have can vary widely.

Sex Addiction: Currently sex addiction is categorized as an impulse control disorder and a sexual disorder, but the range of symptoms that are experienced by the individual are very much the same as those seen in substance dependence and abuse, and therefore the treatment of sex addiction is very similar to the treatment of substances.

A wide range of behaviors can be symptoms of sex addiction, including:

  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Multiple affairs
  • Anonymous sex
  • Obsessive dating
  • Compulsive use of pornography
  • Risky or unsafe sex
  • Cybersex
  • Exhibitionism
  • Voyeurism
  • Prostitution or use of prostitutes

Bipolar Disorder

It is natural to experience ups and downs in life, including significant changes of mood within the same day. However, people living with bipolar disorder experience extreme highs and lows as well as mood changes that disrupt their lives. The extreme highs, known as mania, are followed by extreme lows, or depressions, which make it difficult to work, maintain relationships and otherwise enjoy life.

Bipolar disorder does not have to be debilitating. With the right treatment, people can overcome the disorder and regain control over their life.

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder causes disruptive shifts in the mood and energy that can occur over a few days, weeks or months. The fifth edition of “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” lists five different types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I disorder: manic or mixed episodes that last for more than seven days, or severe manic symptoms requiring hospitalization. Depressive episodes that last at least two weeks might also occur
  • Bipolar II disorder: Lengthy depressive episodes with hypomanic episodes that do not become full-blown manic episodes or mixed episodes. Bipolar II is typically less disruptive than Bipolar I disorder
  • Bipolar disorder not otherwise specified (BP-NOS): Bipolar symptoms exist in a person and are clearly not within the normal range of behavior for that individual, but they do not meet any of the diagnostic criteria for the above bipolar disorders
  • Cyclotheymic disorder or cyclothymia: A milder form of bipolar disorder where a person will experience hypomania and mild depression for more than two years but they do not fulfill the above diagnostic criteria
  • Rapid-cycling bipolar disorder: a person experiences four or more episodes within one year


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of children and often continues into adulthood. ADHD includes a combination of persistent problems, such as difficulty sustaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior. ADHD includes the symptom of physical hyperactivity or excessive restlessness–that’s the “H”. In ADD (what is called in the diagnostic manual, ADHD, inattentive subtype), the symptom of hyperactivity is absent. Indeed, people with ADD can be calm and serene, not in the least hyperactive or disruptive.

Children and adults with ADHD also may struggle with low self-esteem, troubled relationships and poor performance in school. Symptoms sometimes lessen with age. However, some people never completely outgrow their ADHD symptoms. But they can learn strategies to be successful.

While treatment won’t cure ADHD, it can help a great deal with symptoms. Treatment typically involves medications, education or training, and behavioral interventions. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a big difference in outcome.