What fascinates me about addiction and obsessive behavior is that people would choose an altered state of consciousness that’s toxic and ostensibly destroys most aspects of your normal life, because for a brief moment you feel okay.
There are many different types of addiction like cocaine addiction alcoholism, cigarettes, gambling, sex, etc. addiction can be to substances, or some habits..
Humans are said to learn by repetition, so you tend to get addicted to something if you repeat it on a habitual basis.
Addiction gets entrenched through a mechanism called the “reward system”. Addictive drugs leave a deep mark, which pushes us to repeatedly renew consumption (drug or habit), until we are completely hooked.
Addiction begins in the brain, where the aforementioned “reward system” is domiciled.
This system is at work even with vital functions like thirst and hunger.. Indeed, when you feel hungry, your stomach grumbles, indicating a need to eat. At the end of your meal, you are satisfied. The feeling of pleasure in satisfying our hunger pushes us to revisit the source of satisfaction, repeatedly we fell hunger.. eating, which promotes addictions.
So we are all addicts even if that addiction is to water and food alone
The reward system was also demonstrated with experiments on rats, which showed that when rats had the ability to self-stimulate certain neurons in their brains, they would indulge themselves…spontaneously.
It became known to neuroscience that all addictive drugs have a commonality – each increases dopamine levels in the synapses of a region of the brain that is part of this reward system.
Dopamine modulates the neurotransmitters, substances that transmit information between neurons in the brain. Its release in the synapses causes the brain to seek to repeat the actions that brought about the pleasurable reward.
Addictive substances hack the reward system by stimulating it directly. Dopamine level usually degrades gradually after being released in the synapse. However, the use of a drug like cocaine prevents the reuptake of dopamine by neurons and therefore its concentration progressively increases.
The repetition of the behaviours leading to the reward leads to the taking of drugs: the brain always asks for more. The vicious cycle is now am unbroken chain. As a result, while being aware of the harmful nature of drugs, addicts literally can not help themselves.
Repetition creates addiction.
Indulge, get rewarded, crave,… and repeat.
Most people smoking for the first time do not find the taste of cigarettes pleasurable. But, with repetition, the unpleasant sensation, felt the first time, disappears because the increases in dopamine levels caused by each cigarette will precipitate the urge to smoke again.
Some drugs like nicotine, heroin or cocaine are more addictive than others because they act directly on the synapse, and block the reuptake of dopamine.
The speed of drug elimination is also an important factor. For example, cannabis is eliminated very slowly.
One can judge in part the degree of addiction of a substance by detecting a peak in the concentration of dopamine which varies depending on the mode of ingestion of the drug (whether oral, nasal or intravenous). The more direct the absorption, the more the effects will be immediate.
By the time addiction is noticed, it is usually too late. At this stage, the brain has already had time to get used to the substance. Indeed, the neurons keep in memory the stimulation and a certain tolerance settles. Hence the need to increase the doses to maintain the same degree of pleasure.
When one decides to stop using a addictive drug, the “lack syndrome” manifests (caused by an imbalance in the functioning of neurons, which adapt to the presence of drugs). This phase is of relatively short duration and can be easily overcome within a suitable medical environment. The sudden absence of the drug sometimes causes very serious (withdrawal) symptoms.
Also, the tendency to relapse is the most difficult problem to overcome because it results from conditioning and persists for a very long time. This tendency to relapse is aggravated by the situations previously associated with taking drugs, or through stress.
Normally, “control circuits” in the brain send a signal to a person which allows him to reason out actions (both moral and physical).
However, in this case of addiction, these circuits can not cope with the additive call of drugs. People who have been addicts are likely to drag this baggage all their lives because the effect of drugs in the brain does not disappear completely. Without diligence, there could be as relapse
There is a genetic component to the susceptibility to addiction – which means that addiction can run in families. For example, it can happen that a person smokes every day for a time and that from one day to the next, he never puts his hand on a cigarette. Conversely, in another family, it may be enough for a few cigarettes to directly create an addiction. Different tolerance levels.
However, genes are only one factor among others, they are not the only explanations for the phenomenon of addiction.
We should note that addiction is not caused solely by substance use. Some addictions can be created by behaviors (games, shopping, smartphones, sex), which produce the same dopamine elevation level effects in the brain. In the case of a gambling addiction, it has been observed that the excitation provoked in the player by chance also activates dopamine neurons.
“An over-indulgence of anything, even something as pure as water, can intoxicate.”
When the word “addiction” is mentioned, we generally tend to associate it with bad habits that are injurious to one’s life. but some additions are positive.. Those are the ones we shouldn’t try to get cured of… addiction like telling the truth no matter what ..addiction to cleanliness.. addiction to eating healthy food, etc.
“You don’t get over an addiction by stopping using. You recover by creating a new life where it is easier to not use. If you don’t create a new life, then all the factors that brought you to your addiction will catch up with you again.”
Overcoming negative addiction is often achieved through willpower, counseling, countermeasure drugs, etc.
Have a look. this comprehensive article on tackling negative addiction.