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Addictions Signs To Look Out For | Affinity Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality healthcare, explores common addictions many South Africans suffer from and how you can reclaim your life.


Addiction is a complex condition. Almost a century of scientific research has helped experts understand what addiction is. It’s important to know how it affects your well-being, and what treatment options work best.

“This research has resulted in a significant shift in how we talk about addiction. Addiction is now recognised as an illness that affects the brain. Society used to consider it as a personal choice,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “When most people think of addiction, they think of substance abuse, but it is not the only sort of addiction.”


Let’s get into the diverse types of addiction. It’s helpful to understand a few general elements of this condition.

Dopamine and Your Body’s Reward System

Addiction disrupts normal brain function, especially in the “reward system.” Your reward system releases dopamine and other neurotransmitters when you do something enjoyable.


Despite widespread belief, dopamine doesn’t appear to induce sensations of pleasure or euphoria. Instead, it seems to enhance your brain’s experience and feelings of joy. It prompts you to seek out similar things again in the future.

Cravings and Tolerance

The desire to relive this exhilaration might lead to cravings for substances. This is the exact case when you face the same cues (like a party where people are drinking, for example). Cravings are sometimes the first indicator of addiction.


The more you use a substance, the more your brain manufactures more dopamine. It eventually realises that there is already enough dopamine in your brain. It then begins creating less dopamine in response to common triggers.

But there’s a catch: your brain still needs the same quantity of dopamine to work properly. Soon, you’ll need to use more of the chemical to compensate for what your brain isn’t releasing.

Disinterest in Other Activities and Loss Of Control

As addiction progresses, you might lose interest in hobbies and other fun activities. This happens because your brain no longer creates a large amount of dopamine.

You might wish to stop taking a substance or indulging in a habit. But you might also feel as if you still need them to feel good about yourself. Addiction can disrupt your life. This can lead to job loss, health issues, and relationship concerns, among other things.

Chemical Addiction Versus Behavioural Addiction

Chemical addiction is sometimes referred to as “substance use disorder.” Some of the more common addictive substances include:

  • Alcohol
  • Opioids
  • Heroin
  • Prescription Pain Medication
  • Oxycodone
  • Morphine
  • Cannabis
  • Nicotine
  • Amphetamines
  • Cocaine
Signs and symptoms of substance use disorder often include:
  • Urges that are strong enough to interfere with your ability to think about other things
  • A need to use more of the substance to achieve the same results
  • Discomfort if the substance is not accessible
  • Dangerous substance use, such as driving or working while using it
  • Difficulty managing work, school, or family tasks due to substance use
  • Friendship or relationship troubles related to substance use
  • Spending less time on activities you used to like
  • Inability to stop using the substance
  • Withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit
Nonetheless, behavioural addiction is an addiction to a certain behaviour. Such addictions include:
  • Gambling
  • Shopping
  • Exercising
  • Compulsive eating
  • Sex
  • Watching TV
  • Engaging on social media.

Most medical experts agree that some behavioural patterns can become harmful over time. But there is still some controversy about when behaviours become addictive.


Yet, general indicators of a possible behavioural addiction include:
  • Spending a significant amount of time detrimental engaging in the impulsive behaviour
  • Using the behaviour to cope with uncomfortable emotions
  • Concealing the behaviour or lying to others about the behaviour
  • Having difficulties avoiding the behaviour
  • The inability to quit the addictive behaviour

Treatments for Substance Use Disorder

Without the help of a trained expert, quitting or controlling addiction can be tricky. The first stage in treating substance use disorders is often medically supervised detoxification. This does not treat the illness, but it can be a safe completion of the withdrawal process.

Following that, other options include treatment at a rehab facility. Added to that are psychotherapy and addiction counselling, medication, and support group programmes. Notable support groups include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Treatments for Behavioural Addictions

Various circumstances can cause behavioural and substance addictions. Treatment options vary. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is frequently effective for behavioural addictions.

CBT focuses on paying attention to distressing thoughts and feelings. It encourages you to learn how to reframe them in the moment. You can couple this intervention with productive coping abilities. You have the potential to cut the demand for addictive behaviours.

Where Can You Get Help? 

Learn More: Overdose Awareness

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products is designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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