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Skidmore College
Counseling Center

What is an Addiction?

It can be challenging to recognize an addiction problem in someone you know. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) defines addiction as a chronic disease that affects the brain’s reward, motivation, and memory functions. Someone with an addiction will crave a substance or behavioral habit, and will neglect other areas of life to fulfill or support these longings.

General signs of addiction are:

  • lack of control, or inability to stay away from a substance or behavior
  • decreased socialization, like abandoning commitments or ignoring relationships
  • ignoring risk factors, despite potential consequences
  • physical effects, like withdrawal symptoms or needing a higher dosage for effect

The degree of intensity for each sign may depend on how long the addiction has been present. A healthy person can usually identify a negative behavior and stop engaging in it. This is not the case with someone with an addiction. Rather than acknowledge the problem exists, they often find ways to justify and continue the behavior.

Addictions are often accompanied by changes in behavior, personality, and eventually health. Early on there may be episodes of binging or loss of control with little to no feelings of remorse afterwards. Later, the person may stop engaging in hobbies or activities they used to enjoy, neglect relationships, stop following through on obligations and become secretive or dishonest. They may become irritable, aggressive, apathetic, or depressed.


Good Sources for More Information

SAMHSA's National helpline

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or TTY: 1-800-487-4889, is a confidential, free, 24/7/365 information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

Helpful links

A Good Introcution, Plus Links to Different Types of Addictions (from Psychology Today)

Ten Patterns of Addictive Behavior (from Psychology Today)

Treatment Approaches to Substance Addiction (from Medical News Today)

An In-Depth Look on the Science of Addiction (from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, part of the National Institutes of Health)

Online Searchable Database of Local AA Meetings

Listing of NA Meetings in the Saratoga Springs Area

The Office of Addiction Services and Supports (OASAS) – A Great Resource for Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Information:


Recovery Resouces

Online Message Board, Chat Room, & Meetings at SMART Recovery – An Abstinence-Oriented, Not-for-Profit Organization for Individuals with Addictive Problems

I am Sober

A free app. Available for Android and iPhone.

“This sobriety tool was developed by a Harvard-educated licensed chemical dependency and certified alcohol addiction counselor. It uses proven techniques to help you stay sober. Features include daily motivational messages, a search engine to help you find relevant content, a tool to avoid relapse if you have a craving, a chat forum, and much more.”

Sober Grid

Free with in-app purchases. Available for Android or iPhone.

“Sober Grid is designed to serve as your sober social network. It connects you to sober people nearby, offers a 24/7 peer support group, tracks your recovery with check-ins and quests, and includes a sobriety counter. Your information on the app can be as private or as public as you choose.”