February 28

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What Addiction Looks Like To The Brain (And How To Break Free)

Addiction means craving for something intensely.

Addicts lose control of themselves. They lose control over how they use a substance. Whether it’s drug, alcohol, tobacco, gaming, or even shopping….

…addicts want them despite the possible unfavorable consequences.

Addiction changes the brain. And while it seems hopeless and it’s tough to break free, it’s possible.

For the longest time, scientists believed that only alcohol and powerful drugs can cause addiction.

But recent studies show that certain pleasurable activities such as gambling, shopping, or gaming can have the same effect on the brain.

While addictions can present itself in different forms, they’re basically the same to a degree.

The brain registers pleasure the same way. Whether it’s a nice meal, a monetary reward, or a drug. In the brain, this means releasing the neurotransmitter called dopamine.

Dopamine release is consistently tied in with pleasure. Addictions release dopamine in the brain powerfully, consistently, reliably, and quickly.

This faster and more powerful dopamine release will more likely lead to an addiction.

How do you know you’re addicted?

Three things: you’re intensely craving for that substance, you’re losing control, and you’re disregarding the possible adverse consequences.

Need some help in ending your addiction?

Tolerance

Because these addictive activities can release much more amount of dopamine, it gets overwhelmed. And what the brain will do is produce less dopamine.

As the user takes more of the substance or does more of the activity, the dopamine hit lessens. And in time, the addict will need to take more of it to feel the dopamine hit, or the ‘high’.

This will be a downward spiral from here on, until the addict steps up.

How to Break Free from Addiction:

This can be a focus of another article on its own.

This process can be difficult, not just for the users or the addict, but those who are being affected of his/her behavior.

But to simply put…

Addictions begin with triggers. Either stress, anxiety, or any unpleasurable experience. These can cause someone to go to other resorts to deal with challenges in life.

Someone can play videogames for 15 hours a day just to avoid problems. Another person can go to a casino just to avoid problems.

Whatever the activity, or the substance is, they’re rewarding. And they become an escape for someone who is not willing to face the real issues of real life.

After some trigger-reward cycle. The trigger changes. Ring the bell, feed the dog. An alcoholic can be triggered by seeing bottles of liquors.

Again, downward spiral.

So, to put an end to this cycle of trigger-reward. Addicts need to tackle the problem, instead of running away from it. The only thing that addicts need to run away from is their addiction.

This might be easier than done. But I can help you with it.

If you’re an addict, or someone you care about is an addict.

You can help. I’ll tell you more about this later.

The answer is to take your mind off your addictions. And do something productive instead. Your cravings for the substance or the activity can be ‘translated’ into something productive.

First, be aware that you’re feeling the urge. But don’t give in. Instead, do something empowering and productive.

I’ll say this again. This is easier said than done, especially if you’re an addict. It takes a lot of power, and it still might not be enough. Relapses can happen. And can trigger the cycle again.

Another path is to get help. Find a therapist, counsellor, or a professional that has the credibility to help you.

The addict needs a community, an accountability partner, and a blueprint or a path to recovery.

I wish you good luck!


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