Western Kentucky University

Alcohol Use In College

What are addictions?

Addiction is a compulsion which perpetuates itself. It can pertain to a substance or an activity. Some of the substances and/or activities that are considered addictions are; alcohol, drugs, shopping, gambling, sex, overeating, and smoking.

Some in the medical field disagree on what constitutes an addiction. With some, the term "addiction" means to have an escalating and ongoing problem with drugs and/or alcohol. However, addiction can also be applied to compulsive behaviors other than drug use, such as overeating or gambling. In any of these examples, addiction means having a chronic pattern of behavior that continues despite the direct or indirect adverse consequences that result from engaging in the behavior. It is quite common for an addict to express the desire to stop the behavior, but find himself or herself unable to cease.

How do I know if I have an addiction?

If your current situation has you concerned enough that you are exploring this option - it's quite possible that you have an addiction. Addicts are trapped in their behaviors and cannot always simply quit on their own. People often assume that because addiction begins with a voluntary behavior and is expressed in the form of excess behavior, an addict should just be able to quit by force of will alone. However, it is essential to understand when dealing with addicts that we are dealing with individuals whose brains have been altered by alcohol, drugs, or behavioral abuse.

While there is no absolute scientific formula for identifying when an individual's use or behavior has developed into a full-blown addiction problem, most rehabilitation counselors agree that for drug use, alcohol use, or behavioral misuse there are four distinct stages that may lead to addiction. The four stages are generally acknowledged as 1) overuse or experimentation of a drug, alcohol, or behavior, 2) the misuse of a substance or behavior, 3) the abuse of drugs, alcohol, or behavior and 3) a drug, alcohol, or behavior dependency or addiction. While individuals in the first or second stages of use and misuse may not necessarily progress into addicts, individuals in the third stage of abuse are likely to develop full-blown addiction problems.

Where can I find help?

There are many places that a person can find help with their addictions, starting with your local counseling center. The Counseling and
Testing Center provides professional, confidential counseling and assessment. They can also help with referrals for off-campus treatment. The counseling staff can be reached at 745-3159.

Helpful Links:

Addiction Intervention Resources
Alcoholics Anonymous
Drug Rehab Advice Center
Overeaters Anonymous
Gamblers Anonymous
Narcotics Anonymous
Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous
www.lungusa.org - American Lung Association
www.cancer.org - American Cancer Society
www.americanheart.org -- American Heart Association
 Last Modified 7/22/13