Addiction is more sophisticated than you think.
Addiction is a huge problem in our world. It is a disease that can spread to anybody and they won’t even suspect it.
It is widely believed that “getting addicted” is a simple task: you like something, you do more of it, you don’t have the willpower to resist it, you’re addicted.
“Addiction” has many more factors that should be taken into account when talking about how it works.
And I’m going to do just that.
I proudly present you, The Science behind Addiction!
What is Addiction?
Before diving into how addiction works, we need to clarify our understanding of what addiction actually is.
The definition meaning is:
The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity.
“Being addicted to a particular substance of activity”, for example, addiction to drugs, addiction to the internet etc.
The Chemicals of our Brain
Another thing which we’ll need to understand properly before striking the working of addiction is the chemicals of our brain.
No, I’m not going to spell out every one of those chemicals, we’ll just learn about the ones required.
Dopamine, is the biggest guilty in the whole process of addiction. (yes, it’s a whole process, no, don’t run away, it’s fairly simple)
In layman’s terms, dopamine is a “feel good” hormone, it makes us feel good whenever we do something that we enjoy.
For example, when you eat food, it fills your stomach, gives you nutrients and you enjoy it, and so does dopamine, so it messes around your brain.
But it should come from somewhere, right? If it floated around our brains freely, we would always feel good.
Dopamine receptors are projectors of dopamine, they release dopamine whenever our brain tells it to do so.
So whenever the brain is like “Give me dopamine!”, dopamine receptors shower dopamine in your brain.
Also, dopamine has a memorizing quality.
It makes your brain go “Hey! This is awesome! Remember this feeling!”
Now, let’s explain this with a situation, let’s suppose you have an addiction to food.
You eat a slice of a cheese pizza with extra toppings and a lot of tomato ketchup (yum!), you enjoy eating it.
The dopamine receptors love it and release a lot of dopamine.
Because of the memorizing capability of dopamine, your brain remembers the awesome feeling you felt while eating pizza.
You feel great because of the dopamine flowing through your head and you crave for more.
You eat another slice, then another, then another, until you’re full.
After meddling around in your brain for some time, dopamine returns back to its receptors and sits there quietly again until the next time you call it back.
Also, because the brain remembers the feeling you had while eating the delicious pizza, it releases a little bit less dopamine next time. (Why? Because it’s selfish!)
Every time you eat, a little less dopamine is released.
And that’s why you need to eat a little more every time to feel the equal amount of “good feeling” again.
That’s why a drug addict craves for more drugs, so that he can get the same amount of “good feeling” again, and be the same level of high he was before.
Willpower’s not everything
Although willpower is a big factor in determining if you’ll be addicted to something or not, it’s not everything.
Number of dopamine receptors, amount of dopamine released when doing something enjoyable and a preference for something over the other is different in different people.
My dopamine receptors might love surfing on the Internet more while yours may prefer Netflix over all.
That’s why different people have different addictions and different “severities” of it.
But in the end, you do need a lot of willpower to quit an addiction.
How to cure addiction?
There’s no hard and fast way to cure addiction, but you can try some of the ideas listed below:
- Try to divert your mind from the addiction by forming a new (read: good) habit.
- If it is severe, try to get some therapy.
- Do yoga, it is the one-stop-shop for curing it all, even if it doesn’t work, it’s good for your health.
- Keep doing whatever you do, but decrease it’s amount slowly and slowly everyday to a point you totally don’t do it.
- Form or join a group or committee dedicated to solving your specific type of addiction.
- Google about it, who knows if you find something valuable?
Have you ever faced any addiction? Did you cure it? How? Give me your valuable knowledge and thoughts through the comments below!