According to the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), addiction exists if three or more of the following criteria apply. Only professionals (doctors, psychologists, social workers, etc.) with appropriate training can make a professional diagnosis of addiction.

  • Inner compulsion to consume, reduced ability to control consumption
  • Physical withdrawal symptoms when consumption is stopped or reduced
  • Tolerance formation: Dose must be increased to achieve the same effect
  • Other interests are neglected, increased time spent on acquisition, consumption or recovery from consumption
  • Consumption continues despite knowledge of existing health problems

An addiction is a group of characteristics related to body, behaviour and thought patterns. In this context, the use of a substance or class of substances takes precedence for the affected person over behaviour and characteristics that previously had a higher priority. The decisive characteristic of addiction is the strong or even overpowering desire or physical craving to use psychoactive substances, medication or alcohol and tobacco.

In's understanding of addiction, it is a matter of the person concerned experiencing problems with their health, social network, school or work as a result of substance use or because of extraordinary behaviour patterns (e.g. gambling addiction), which would be fewer or non-existent if they did not use substances or behaved differently. In this context, the person does not want to or cannot change the consumption or behaviour. In contrast to the medical definition, does not equate dependence and addiction. We are addicted to many things: to our daily needs such as food and drink, but also to social contacts, relationships, love, etc. From our point of view, addiction is a special form of dependence that exists when symptoms of illness become apparent because of the dependence.

Links to support on addiction issues: