There seem to be several inter-dependent factors at play in causing addiction in a person. Every addiction starts with some sort of gratification. That gratification can come in the form of physical pleasure, as is with sex or eating, drawing the attention of others, whether positively or negatively, as is with on-line communication, a sense of increase in one's self-worth/self-esteem, as might be the case with posting to Everything or any other physical/psychological stimuli that result in positive gratification.

Addiction works as a non-linear system. The more a person induces the gratification-generating stimulus, the less gratifying it becomes as the brain learns to habituate its response to it. In trying to re-experience that stimulus at its original full impact, the person is driven to re-induce the stimulus. The decline in gratification keeps at a loosely direct proportion to the frequency that the stimulus is induced.

The evolutional value of the addiction mechanism is clear -- anything that drives a species to eat more and mate more increases that species replicative value. Those that only eat as much as they need aren't going to survive as well as those that keep eating as much as they can, regardless of whether they produce pleasure out of it or not. More directly, those that reproduce compulsively are going to spread their genes much more effectively than those that only do for as long as it provides them with pleasure.

Addiction:

Addiction is generally recognized to be a state of intense dependence (upon a drug) that is characterized by uncontrollable drug-seeking behavior, tolerance for the drug's pleasure-giving effects, and withdrawal manifestations when the drug is withheld. These features constitute physical dependence-- a state of physical incorporation of the drug into the fundamental biochemistry of specific brain activities.

--From The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs

addiction: a state or condition of existence characterized by habitually engaging in a highly specific and routine activity reiteratively and compulsively, irrespective of aversive or deadly consequences; the addiction is not to the activity, but to the object, substance, or person toward which the activity is directed. See also sexual addiction

Dictionary of Sexology Project: Main Index

This summer I met a girl who could sing beautifully, but who was a smoker. Over the course of a month I got to know her better and better, until after I'd known her for about two weeks I couldn't take it anymore...

I went up to her and said, "You know... smoking will kill your singing voice."
And she looked straight back at me and, with her voice solemn and a tear in her eye, said "I know."

That is addiction.

The condition in which the need of oneself to perform a certain activity to satisfy a desire is great enough to cause the person to continue the behaviour.

An addiction is not necessarily harmful to one's health, nor is it necessarily a negative situation to be in. This is a key point that many drug warriors fail to recognise. The harmfulness of an addiction is determined not by its presense nor by the severity of it, but by the dangers of the behaviour to which one is addicted. Drug warriors sometimes state the possibility of addiction alone as a reason to abstain from drug use, when in reality one should be concerned with the direct firsthand dangers of taking the drug in question, in light of the fact that addiction could occur.

The severity of an addiction is determined by the strength of the desire to perform the activity. For instance, a user addicted to crack, running low on money, may eventually favour paying for a hit on the crack pipe over purchasing food, leading to starvation. Other addictions, such as to Cannabis, are never strong enough to force the user to make sacrifices to their health, other than those caused by the drug itself, which are minimal.

Addictions are not limited to drug use, however. Common addictions are to:

Addictions can become degrading to one's overall well-being for several reasons. It may become difficult for one to finance their habit. The crackhead example was illustrated earlier. Also, addictions can be time-consuming. This can make experiencing pleasure through other means more difficult. In addition, addictions tend to piss people off, especially in respect to drug use. Today's society has little understanding of drugs, drug users, and drug culture. Finally, the activity to which one is addicted can be harmful directly to the person's health.

Addiction is a relatively new E2 statistic invented by kthejoker which is calculated by dividing a user's devotion by the number of days since they they joined Everything2. Because devotion is merit multiplied by the number of writeups a user has written, addiction measures both the quality of a users writeups, and how fast they node. It's a pretty fun metric because it is constantly dropping, and you have to node like a maniac to make it go up!

As of this writing, here are the top 25 users (not including reincarnated users), as measured by their "addiction" to E2:

1  aneurin         12.014 
2  Gritchka        11.063 
3  GentlemanJim    10.856 
4  borgo           10.267 
5  Jet-Poop        10.074 
6  sekicho         9.999 
7  anthropod       9.324 
8  TheDeadGuy      9.058 
9  The Custodian   9.018 
10 Lometa          8.813 
11 iceowl          8.728 
12 wertperch       7.786 
13 Lucy-S          7.601 
14 SharQ           7.543 
15 mauler          7.513
16 Servo5678       7.442 
17 shaogo          7.364 
18 Rancid_Pickle   7.288  
19 sensei          7.085 
20 Tlachtga        7.055 
21 kthejoker       6.855 
22 Gorgonzola      6.842 
23 Segnbora-t      6.842
24 paraclete       6.398
25 m_turner        6.374


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E2 Glossary

an aged indian man

(with a purple bumpy nose)

quietly gestured for the Listerine

(kept behind the counter)

and paid for it with change

Ad*dic"tion (#), n. [Cf. L. addictio an adjudging.]

The state of being addicted; devotion; inclination.

"His addiction was to courses vain."

Shak.

 

© Webster 1913.

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