GC: n

S: NHS – (last access: 29 June 2020); PSY – (last access: 29 June 2020).

N: 1. c. 1600, “tendency, inclination, penchant” (a less severe sense now obsolete); 1640s as “state of being (self)-addicted” to a habit, pursuit, etc., from Latin addictionem (nominative addictio) “an awarding, a delivering up,” noun of action from past-participle stem of addicere “to deliver, award; devote, consecrate, sacrifice”. In the sense “compulsion and need to take a drug as a result of prior use of it” from 1906, in reference to opium (there is an isolated instance from 1779 with reference to tobacco).
2. Habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice which is beyond voluntary control.
3. In 1964 a WHO Expert Committee introduced the term ‘dependence’ to replace the terms ‘addiction’ and ‘habituation’. The term can be used generally with reference to the whole range of psychoactive drugs (drug dependence, chemical dependence, substance use dependence), or with specific reference to a particular drug or class of drugs (e.g. alcohol dependence, opioid dependence). While ICD-10 describes dependence in terms applicable across drug classes, there are differences in the characteristic dependence symptoms for different drugs.
4. Addiction, habituation, and dependence: The traditional distinction between “addiction” and “habituation” centres on the ability of a drug to produce tolerance and physical dependence. The opiates clearly possess the potential to massively challenge the body’s resources, and, if so challenged, the body will make the corresponding biochemical, physiological, and psychological readjustment to the stress. At this point, the cellular response has so altered itself as to require the continued presence of the drug to maintain normal function. When the substance is abruptly withdrawn or blocked, the cellular response becomes abnormal for a time until a new readjustment is made. The key to this kind of conception is the massive challenge that requires radical adaptation. Some drugs challenge easily, but it is not so much whether a drug can challenge easily as it is whether the drug was actually taken in such a way as to present the challenge. Drugs such as caffeine, nicotine, bromide, the salicylates, cocaine, amphetamine and other stimulants, and certain tranquilizers and sedatives are normally not taken in sufficient amounts to present the challenge. They typically but not necessarily induce a strong need or craving emotionally or psychologically without producing the physical dependence that is associated with “hard” addiction. Consequently, their propensity for potential danger is judged to be less, so that continued use would lead one to expect habituation but not addiction. The key word here is expect. These drugs, in fact, are used excessively on occasion and, when so used, do produce tolerance and withdrawal signs. Morphine, heroin, other synthetic opiates, and to a lesser extent codeine, alcohol, and the barbiturates, all carry a high propensity for potential danger in that all are easily capable of presenting a bodily challenge. Consequently, they are judged to be addicting under continued use. The ultimate effect of a particular drug, in any event, depends as much or more on the setting, the expectation of the user, the user’s personality, and the social forces that play upon the user as it does on the pharmacological properties of the drug itself.

S: 1. OED – (last access: 29 June 2020). 2. TERMIUM PLUS – (last access: 29 June 2020). 3. WHO – (last access: 29 June 2020). 4. EncBrit – (last access: 29 June 2020).


CR: alcohol, amphetamine, caffeine, cannabis, cocaine, drug addiction, fentanyl, heroin, Internet addiction, LSD, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, morphine, nicotine, nicotine addiction, opium, tobacco.