The Roots of Addiction

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When you think about it, there is a high chance that you’ve probably been addicted to something before. Be it alcohol, smoking, sex, video games, or even work – you’ve probably been doing something regularly before in amounts that aren’t exactly normal. If the previous statement doesn’t apply for you, great for you! 

I myself have been at one point a video game addict and an alcoholic, and at the moment am addicted to cigarettes. However, what I’ve noticed through my years smoking is that some people are able to just easily stop – like it was just a flip of a switch. Some people just find it much easier to resist addiction. What causes addiction?

Though there are certain mechanisms involved, genetics hasn’t been thoroughly identified as a cause. However, an addiction of a previous generation might manifest a greater possibility for the next generation to develop a similar addiction.

Nobody really starts with the objective of being hooked, but many people are caught in addiction’s snare. A study of some neurological processes might reveal an answer.

Whatever the substance or form of thing we are abusing, the brain registers it the same way. When we enjoy doing something, dopamine is released in our brain to provide us with pleasure, as well as motivation to keep doing it. Similar to the motivation we feel before a sports competition. Anything that we are abusing can cause a particularly powerful surge of dopamine, increasing the likelihood that we will be doing it again. We generally feel good after a dose of dopamine whenever we are doing something enjoyable habitually.

We naturally take notice and learn that this new habit that we have makes us feel better. That pleasure and a good feeling can be obtained by doing repeating the habit.

However, as time goes on, the brain associates less pleasure with the feel-good habit. It’s probably not as enjoyable anymore as the first few times you’ve been doing it.  Therefore, less dopamine is produced by the brain every time. This is when addiction kicks in, and you start wanting more and more of the substance, just to get the same dopamine “feel-good” feeling that you used to have.

You start to crave it – like it matters to you more than anything else in the world. This is when matters seriously get out of hand. You need a few good friends or family members to hold an intervention lest you ruin your life just aren’t functioning normally anymore.

The difference between the people who get addicted and resist addiction is the ability to separate the feeling that they get from a rush of dopamine and the actual feeling they get from partaking in substances/ habitually performing things. And this one thing can be the difference of night and day for a person. Now that I think about it, my cigarettes don’t really do much for me, really. Hmm.

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