The word “addiction” is often used to refer to any behaviour that is out of control in some way. People often describe themselves as being addicted to, for example, a TV show or shopping.
Addiction is also used to explain the experience of withdrawal when a substance or behaviour (e.g., gambling) is stopped (e.g., “I must be addicted to coffee: I get a headache when I don’t have my cup in the morning”). However, experiencing enjoyment or going through withdrawal does not in itself mean a person has an addiction.
Because the term “addiction” is commonly used in such a vague way, there have been many attempts to define it more clearly. The definition used here refers to problematic use of a substance such as alcohol.
One simple way of describing addiction is the presence of the 4 Cs: