In Japanese, both addictions and poisonings are referred to as 中毒 (chuudoku), with the word before that used to define the type. So for example, here are some common phrases:
– アルコール中毒 (arukooru chuudoku) – alcohol addiction. Note: often shortened to アル中 (aruchuu), presumably because it’s so common…
– 仕事中毒 (shigoto chuudoku) – work addiction, which although it sounds like it should be common too, is not usually shortened to “shichuu”
– インターネット中毒 (intaanetto chuudoku) – Internet addiction
– たばこ中毒 (tabako chuudoku) – nicotine addiction
– 食中毒 (shoku chuudoku) – food poisoning
– キノコ中毒 (kinoko chuudoku) – mushroom poisoning
– 鉛中毒 (namari chuudoku) – lead poisoning
Because no clear distinction is made between these two concepts, the dictionary often lists both for any specific word. So, for example, “チョコレート中毒” (chokoreeto chuudoku) is shown as both chocolate addiction and chocolate poisoning. To the native English speaker, of course, these two are very different! If the news reported a rash of chocolate poisoning, that would be far more scary to most people than a spate of chocolate addiction, for example.
However, as a great example of Orwell’s idea that language defines thinking, many Japanese people don’t seem to see a clear distinction between the two concepts. That is, they (at least, the people who were asked before writing this) feel that something that you are addicted to is automatically a poison, inasmuch as the two are inseparable.