What is addiction?
Addiction is a relapsing disease of the brain that is chronic. This means simply that when taking drugs or drinking alcohol, those with the disease have a difficult time stopping the cycle, even if they desire to. Instead, the urge to continue taking their substance of choice overwhelms them, even if the substance is causing them harm.
You can characterize addiction by not only the inability to abstain from use for any significant length of time, but also an inability to manage the amount taken when using. There are additional symptoms that can include the loss of behavioral control, cravings, physical withdrawal, inability to recognize the problems caused by use and inability to manage functioning in areas of life.