Why does withdrawal from addiction cause aggression

Addictions are destructive to the body and soul. Here you will find information on the most important forms: nicotine addiction, alcohol addiction, drug addiction, shopping addiction, drug addiction or gambling addiction. Also read about who is most at risk, how to recognize an addiction and how to get rid of it.

What is addiction

Addiction describes the psychological or physical dependence on a substance or a behavior. It arises because the addictive substance or behavior acts on the reward center in the brain and triggers positive feelings there.

Addiction is therefore not a character weakness but, according to the definition of addiction, a disease that is based on dysregulation in the brain. The causes of an addiction disease are manifold. In addition to the genetic predisposition, there are also psychological and social factors that make a person slide into addiction.

What are the causes of addiction?

There are genetic as well as psychological and social factors that cause addiction. For example, various risk genes that influence the effects of drugs on the body significantly increase the risk of addictions.

Psychological stress such as stress, weak self-confidence, emotional trauma and mental illnesses such as fears are also risky. Drugs can provide short-term relief for mentally distressed people.

Naturally, an environment in which drugs are readily available and often consumed also increases the risk of addiction.

How does addiction develop?

The boundaries between dangerous consumption (or behavior) and addiction are fluid. Strong drugs can be addictive very quickly. Most of the time, addiction develops insidiously - from dangerous consumption to abuse and addiction. It is therefore often difficult to say when you become addicted.

Addiction memory

In the course of the development of addiction, certain brain structures change permanently. A so-called addiction memory develops in the reward center. It has the effect that someone can relapse quickly even after a long period of abstinence. In addition, the body and mind get used to the kick - the addict needs an ever higher dose to achieve the same reward effect.

Craving and loss of control

If the addictive substance is not available in the case of addiction or if the addictive behavior is not carried out, a strong desire arises (addictive pressure, craving). This is accompanied by a loss of control: the addict can only control with difficulty or not at all whether, when and in what quantities he consumes the addictive substance - or when he becomes addicted. The consequences are often significant health, financial, professional and social problems.

What addictions are there?

In addition to the so-called substance-related addictions to alcohol, nicotine, medication or illegal drugs, there are also some behavioral addictions. The following types of addiction are officially recognized in addiction medicine.

How do you recognize addiction?

The German Central Office for Addiction Issues (DHS) names a total of six signs that can indicate an addiction. They apply regardless of whether the addictive substance is a substance or a special behavior.

Every single one of the warning notices listed below is a clear alarm signal. If three of the addiction symptoms apply, there is usually an addiction disorder.

Strong demand

Desire or compulsion to consume a substance or to do something over and over again. This desire can be strong even when there is no physical addiction.

Loss of control

Addicts can hardly control when, how long and in what quantity they consume an addictive substance.

Inability to abstain

An addict can often not do without "his drug" even if the addiction already has serious health or social consequences.

Tolerance education

The body and mind get used to the drug. People who slide into an addiction need ever larger amounts of their drug to achieve the desired effect.

Withdrawal symptoms

With substance dependence, withdrawal symptoms such as sweating, freezing and tremors as well as severe pain in the limbs, sleep disorders, hallucinations, convulsions and circulatory collapse can occur. Behavioral addictions include nervousness and aggression.

Withdrawal from social life

Those caught in an addiction lose interest in other pursuits. Hobbies, social contacts and even the job are neglected in favor of addictive behavior.

Likewise typical characteristics of an addiction are feelings of guilt after the consumption as well as concealment of the addictive behavior up to denial.

How do you treat addiction?

Getting out of an addiction is difficult. The prerequisites for success are that the person concerned acknowledges that they are addicted and is motivated to break free from their dependency. Both are usually a big step - because addiction takes up a large area of ​​one's own life. The prospect of having to do without the “drug” (be it behavior or substance) on a permanent basis seems at first sight hardly conceivable.

The goal of treatment is usually abstinence. If this hurdle is (still) too high, or if it is a behavioral addiction that makes abstinence impossible or not recommended (sex addiction, shopping addiction, internet addiction), controlled consumption can also be aimed for.


With substance-related addictions such as alcohol, withdrawal can be dangerous for the patient - even life-threatening! - be. That is why it usually takes place under medical supervision. If it is less severe, this is also possible on an outpatient basis.


After the detox comes the real work. It is important to get the emotional dependency under control and to develop perspectives for a life without addiction. In milder cases this can be done on an outpatient basis, in more severe cases an inpatient stay is necessary.

In the case of recognized addictions, the costs are covered - for the detoxification by the health insurance fund, for the several months of weaning treatment after the application has been approved by the pension insurance.

Behavior therapy is the method of choice to combat addiction. In individual therapeutic sessions and often in additional group sessions, the patient explores

  • what function consumption or addictive behavior has for him,
  • how these needs can be met in other ways,
  • what the deeper causes of addiction are,
  • how to avoid relapse.
  • He also learns new strategies, for example to deal with stress and problems.
  • If the addiction has already had a negative impact on work and social life, new perspectives are developed in order to rebuild them.

Stabilization phase

Therapy is ideally followed by a stabilization phase, either with further therapeutic contacts and / or as part of a self-help group.

Prevent addiction

Addictions usually sneak into life unnoticed. It is not easy to prevent and recognize the warning signs in good time. Still, there are some things you can do. Particularly vigilant should be people whose families have or have already had addiction disorders. Because addiction has a strong genetic component.

  • Addictions usually arise from an emotional need - for stress relief and relaxation, stimulation or well-being. Find out again and again what you need so that you are well - and how you can achieve it without addictive substances (relaxation exercises, sport, nature experiences). The key word here is “mindfulness”.
  • Stay away from substances that are quickly addicting. In addition to illegal drugs such as crack, this also includes legal ones such as nicotine!
  • Limit yourself to occasional and, above all, conscious consumption. Reaching for a beer bottle or a glass of wine shouldn't become a routine that you don't even think about.
  • If friends, colleagues or family members ask you about your consumption behavior, take it seriously!
  • If your consumption of (legal or illegal) substances or certain behaviors (eating, shopping or computer games) keep getting out of control, seek help from a counseling center at an early stage.

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