When you intensely crave something, and are unable to moderate or stop yourself from repeatedly using it, in spite of the adverse effects that it has, it can be characterized as addiction. Brain chemistry gets changed when you become an addict. You suffer an inability to register pleasure, which gets subverted and the corruption of all normal drives. It is possible to break an addiction, though doing so will never comes easy. If you need help with finding alcohol addiction therapy please see here. A person’s mind can be strongly influenced by an addiction, and this can be long lasting. How does it manifest itself? It does so in three different ways:
1) Intense craving
2) Being unable to regulate use
3) Continuing the use in spite of experiencing detrimental consequences
Fresh Insights into this Age-old Condition
Rarely does anyone intentionally set out to get addicted to any drug or substance, or even get addicted to using social media or gaming, which can require them to need therapy for Internet and Gaming addiction. Anyone and everyone is affected in some way by any addiction. Here are some statistics put out by the U.S. government:
1) Addiction to alcohol and drugs affects ten percent, or 23 million of Americans
2) Alcohol abuse among Americans is 70%
3) Drugs like narcotics, cocaine, and marijuana are those that are mostly responsible for addictions
Whatever the origin of the pleasure, a human brain registering it does so in the same way, whether it be from a sexual encounter, a meal with a lot of calories, a big monetary win, or the use of a psychoactive drug. The signal of pleasure to the brain is a result of the nucleus accumbens releasing dopamine, a neurotransmitter. This nucleus accumbens has its place under the cerebral cortex, and this cluster of nerve cells are referred to as the pleasure center of the brain by neuroscientists. Addictive drugs, whether they are caffeine, nicotine, heroin, or cocaine result in the triggering of a powerful release of dopamine to the brain. In addition, if this drug has been used when an activity has already been rewarding, the addictions will develop faster, as in a short space of time more dopamine is released with greater reliability, even though this will only happen initially.
Early Learning Process
Previously, scientists were of the opinion that the the sole reason addicts had to struggle to break addictions, was because they experienced pleasure. As per present day understanding and research the reasons for addiction are far more complex. For example, we now know that dopamine contributes not only to feeling pleasure, but also has an important role in memory and learning. These are the two vital elements responsible for moving from developing a liking for something, to having a need for it everyday. Theories that are currently in vogue regarding addiction have a hypothesis that the two neurotransmitters, dopamine and glutamate, interact with each other and take over the system of the brain that is reward-related. This system is very much needed for the sustenance of life, as it makes for a connection between activities that are vital for human survival, such as sex and food consumption, with pleasure.
With the progression of time, the brain adapts, and this results in the use of the sought out drug, substance, or activity becoming less rewarding. Time and effort always preclude rewards which is a part of nature. Drugs and behavior that turn addictive make for a shortcut to pleasure, as then neurotransmitters, especially dopamine, flood the brain. This onslaught results in the brain being confused, and compulsion taking over. Even after the pleasure has subsided, the effect of pleasure creates a memory and the desire to create it again persists. As a consequence, normal motivation mechanisms are no longer present. The learning process that we mentioned earlier also comes into play. Information stored in the brain associates the environmental stimulus with the drug so that it can be rediscovered. These memories or stored information then lead to a response-intense craving every time the addict comes across the same environmental cues. Cravings not only lead to an addiction being kept going, but can lead to a relapse after a period when the addict has been sober. A addict who is recovering from the use of heroin can relapse, if he or she, sees a hypodermic needle, while the sight of a bottle of whiskey can make a recovered addict drink again. Conditioned learning can help in uncovering he reasons why some people have serious relapses even after years of abstinence. The science behind addiction is constantly being evolved and there is hope among its researchers that further studies will give rise to better and more effective treatment protocols.