Webster: a compulsive, chronic, physiological or psychological need for a habit-forming substance, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence.

ASAM: Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. 


  • Behavior (dieting, exercise, sex, gambling)
  • Substance (alcohol, drug use)



  • 19.7 million Americans battled an addiction in 2017
  • Drug abuse and addiction cost Americans over $740 billion each year
  • Almost 21 million Americans have an addiction, but fewer than 10% seek treatment

Risk Factors

  • Biological characteristics
  • Environmental influences
  • Genetics
  • Psychological characteristics
  • So-called “gateway” drug use at an early age (alcohol, tobacco)


There is no known prevention for addiction aside from abstaining from addictive behaviors.


People with a chronic disease are at higher risk for serious problems from certain diseases. Getting vaccinated is an important step in staying healthy.

The CDC recommends all adults receive:

  • Influenza – recommended every year, age 6 months and older
  • Tdap – (if an adult did not receive it as an adolescent to protect against pertussis (whooping cough), and then a Td (tetanus, diphtheria) booster shot every 10 years.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that people who inject drugs get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B. Talk to your doctor about which other vaccines are right for you.

COVID-19 and Addiction

  • Smoking (tobacco, marijuana) or vaping: possibility of a serious threat (COVID-19 affects the lungs)
  • Opioids & Methamphetamines: drugs also affect lungs/respiratory system
  • In-person meetings (AA, NA, etc.) cancelled


Support Groups