ASAM (American Society of Addiction Medicine)
2011 Definition of Addiction

"Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviours. Addiction is characterized by

inability to consistently Abstain,

impairment in Behavioural control,


Diminished recognition of significant problems with one's behaviours and interpersonal relationships,

and a dysfunctional Emotional response.

Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death."

Read more about the ASAM 2011 long definition of addiction here: