Many people wonder what the difference between an addiction and a compulsion is, and few may understand the distinction. Both of these phrases may be used to describe the same behaviors or activities but there is an actual difference in the way that they should be used. Both refer to a lack of control over the action by the individual, and each of them has a genetic component and a biological link. There are also psychological components that are involved in both of these conditions as well. While they may be very similar the differences are also clear. When you have a compulsion this means that your behavior is ritualistic as well as repetitive, and there is not any rational motivation behind these activities.
An addiction may also offer stress relief or eliminate anxiety in the same way that a compulsion does but there are some important variances. The individual can not seem to stop the drug, alcohol, or other harmful behavior even though they realize that it is destructive. The motivation behind these activities is the high or the feeling of pleasure that they produce in the brain in many cases. In others it is the desire to escape from pain which the activity or substance can provide. Both terms are very close in meaning and there are only minor differences. That may be why they are often used interchangeably and why they may be used improperly. Both of these conditions require treatment but the techniques and methods that are effective may be different, depending on whether you have an addiction or a compulsion.