The Psychology of Addiction: How We Develop Addictive Behaviors

Addictive Behavior

Every time we get drunk or high, eat junk food, binge on TV shows, gamble compulsively, watch porn, exercise to the point of injury, or commit any other kind of self-destructive behavior, we’re engaging in addictive behavior. And like everything else in life that we engage in too much of (sex, eating candy bars) there are negative consequences.

* Adolescent Behavior – Identifying Addictive
The psychology of addiction is not about the how, why, when, what, and where behavior. The behavior that triggers the response to more.
What happens to promote addiction is the root. (creations of) That come alive within our minds during adolescent years and developmental growth are normal. Experimenting with drugs and alcohol, trying different things sexually, smoking cigarettes – all these things can cause a person to become addicted. It is hard for us as humans to have control over anything in life but this one thing which has power over us is most often the result of people’s pain or disappointments in life. Addictions can be a way of coping with negative emotions. When you feel really angry, scared, frustrated, lonely or sad it’s easy to cope by using your addiction as an escape mechanism and temporarily forgetting about those bad feelings. With long-term use an addict will feel like they need the drug just to survive because it alters their brain chemistry so that feeling good becomes synonymous with using the drug.

*Understanding Addiction Behavior – What Goes on Inside?
There are two systems in the brain that regulate how we behave and respond to substances. One is the reward system, which is fueled by neurotransmitters like dopamine. The other is the inhibitory system, which inhibits our impulses and desires for substances. When a person’s brain has been altered by chronic substance use, their balance between these two systems changes. The reward system becomes more active and the inhibitory system becomes less effective at regulating behavior. As this continues, the addict needs more and more of the substance to produce an effect—even if they start with small amounts. It becomes harder to stop using, even when they want to or know they should stop.

* Why Does Addiction Occur?
While there is no one single cause for addiction, some risk factors may include genetics or a history of trauma. Genetics plays an important role in the development of addiction, because it can influence our brain’s reward system.
For example, people with a family history of alcohol use disorder are more likely to develop this disorder themselves, and people who have experienced trauma as children are more likely to struggle with drug use disorders.
Other risk factors that may lead to addiction include environmental influences such as peer pressure and availability. In other words, living in a community where substance abuse is prevalent can increase your chances of developing an addiction. These environments affect how we think about drugs and make them seem appealing.

* When Do Addictions Occur?
Addictions typically start during adolescence, which is when the brain has a lot of development going on. Experiments with drugs and alcohol can be seen as normal at this point in life, but it is important to remember that addiction can take hold before the adolescent is even aware. In fact, 90% of cases are reported to start by age 18. With mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder being common among those who struggle with addiction, treatment for these conditions may help to lessen or stop the use of substances. Lastly, there have been recent studies showing that social media apps like Instagram and Snapchat can serve as triggers for those struggling with addiction due to their constant need for instant gratification. There are other factors such as biology and genetics, stressors such as trauma or abuse, and more that play into the psychology of addiction.

* What Triggers It?
In a study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, they found that nicotine is an addicting drug because it stimulates the release of dopamine in reward areas of the brain. Studies also show that people with mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, may abuse drugs and alcohol to help relieve symptoms. In other cases, people might start using drugs or alcohol because friends or family members use them. Other possible triggers for addiction include depression, anxiety, physical pain or discomfort, boredom, and stress. People who experience these conditions are more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol for relief. Some people find that when they drink alcohol, their problems seem less important than before; some report being able to forget about past mistakes while others say they feel more social while drinking; some report feeling more confident and outgoing when under the influence of substances. For others, substances are used to self-medicate serious conditions like chronic pain.

* Where Do Addictions Come From?
Addictions are the result of a complex interaction between genetic vulnerability and environmental factors. It is important to note that there is no single gene for addiction, but it does seem to be more prevalent in families with a history of addiction. In addition to genetics, childhood trauma, stress and neglect have been shown to have an effect on the development of an addiction. Stressful situations release cortisol and other hormones into the body which can lead to addiction if not dealt with properly. However, any person can become addicted regardless of their environment if they use substances regularly.

* Expanding Consciousness – Solutions
What starts out as a small, seemingly harmless habit can quickly spiral into full-blown addiction. Many factors contribute to the development of addiction, and one crucial factor is the individual’s sense of self. When people feel disconnected from their true selves, they may seek temporary relief from this disconnection through substance abuse. When people are able to connect with their core selves and feel more aligned with who they truly are, they are much less likely to develop an addiction. Once a person does start using substances in an unhealthy way, it becomes harder for them to stop on their own without professional help. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reports that 90 percent of those addicted to alcohol or other drugs need help getting sober but only 10 percent actually receive treatment. Fortunately there are many avenues for support if you or someone you know needs help managing or overcoming addiction.

The truth of addictive Behavior, easy to start, is hard to quit. One may struggle for sobriety daily, changing routine and finding the root cause is the solution. Facing the issue will help find peace to self contentment. Addiction is real and it’s one day at a time. Recovery isn’t easy, but starting is the first try.

Until our beautiful minds meet again be safe out there. Many blessings and much love. Remember Everyday Minds Matter -Della 💞🦋

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