Addiction: Harming or Healing?

Posted Mar 12, 2021 at 09:03

Placeholder image

By definition Addiction is; a psychological and physical inability to stop consuming a chemical, drug, activity, or substance, even though it is causing psychological and physical harm. But what changes in the body in order to create that addiction and why does it always take more each time to satisfy that need.

To find the answer we first need to establish why we initially do those things we are addicted to and dive deep into biology and physiology to see what changes when we do those things. Firstly an addiction never starts out as one, initially it begins as an activity that makes us happy and brings us joy. Through repetition and time the need for that activity can grow stronger and the urge to fulfill that need impacts life negatively despite your best actions, it becomes an addiction. Therefore all addictions start out as moments of happiness or joy before manifesting themselves negatively in the future.

When you observe the neurophysiology of happiness or joy you will find that an emotion is nothing more than a chemical change and signal within the brain and body. Pleasure sensors are stimulated in the brain and endorphins; feel good hormones, are released in the body. This chemical rush is why we feel happy or elated, that's not a bad thing surely, and on its own it's not. But to get the same level of elation for a 2nd, 3rd or 4th time more stimulation is required to turn on those sensors within the brain to release the chemical rush. That’s adaptation, once the sensors have been stimulated once they need more stimulation each time following to create the same feeling of happiness or joy you experienced that very first time. Very quickly what is initially enough for the endorphin rush now leaves you feeling nothing so you naturally seek more stimulation to get that feeling again.

But a common misconception is that addiction only involves alcohol, gambling and nicotine but it can in fact be anything, even exercise, food or shopping.Yes so called healthy things like exercise can become addictive and negatively affect life. But why do so many people become addicted, we know why our physiology adapts to allow us to but what reason within our psyche allows that addictions and ultimately seeks it out. Many believe it's a distraction technique, for while we are experiencing the chemical endorphin rush of happiness we are no longer having to confront our true feelings or thoughts. It's a form of escapism where we can forget about our true inner feelings and allow our external environment to dictate our internal feelings. We allow our external to dictate our internal. So does it surprise you when a large percentage of the population define themselves through their possessions, their cars, clothes or income. They have learnt how to change their inner feelings temporarily through changing their external possessions, and when that euphoria wears off they rinse and repeat and start to associate possessions with happiness. They become possessed by their possessions. But what happens when their possessions are gone, or they cant feed their addiction anymore. Even worse what happens when the inevitable happens and they start to pass away, you can't take your possessions with you. But if that's how you’ve determined your happiness in life, by the possessions you own when they have gone, what do you have left?

Don’t allow your external to dictate your internal.