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Addiction can affect any person, regardless of their social status or wealth. The abuse of drugs, alcohol, and unsuccessful attempts to quit smoking first come to mind when we talk about addiction. Although it can take a very different form. Someone is obsessed with sex, someone with shopping, social networks or coffee. We want to explain how dependence is formed, how it differs from partiality, and what to do if the situation becomes dangerous.

How Addiction Differs From Partiality?

A “true” addiction to alcohol, nicotine, or caffeine is associated with a physical withdrawal syndrome. When there is no access to a substance, the person becomes ill and a dose of this substance alleviates their suffering. If a person is dependent on sex, the Internet or eating then the withdrawal syndrome is only psychological. Of course, it doesn’t matter to those who are dependent on shopping or the Internet whether their problem is on the medical list.

Dependence or addiction decides for the person what to do and the consciousness only submits or completely turns off. Addiction differs from any ritual or habit in that it dictates the rules, subjugates, and deprives of choice. Some addicted people lose their health, others money, and some even their life.

How Pleasure Forms Addiction

The sensation of pleasure is provided by a neurotransmitter called dopamine. It is also responsible for the anticipation of pleasure, a sweet sense of expectation which is sometimes stronger than the event itself. Millions of processes occur in the body at the same time, but if you simplify it, the formation of habits and patterns occurs as well. 

When we wait for pleasure and finally get it, a lot of dopamine is produced and the so-called positive reinforcement occurs, the feeling that we did everything right. If we are disappointed then there is little dopamine and “negative reinforcement” is formed. Templates and labels appear in the head and the more often we follow the same scheme, the faster we get used to it.

Search for Pleasure or Escape From Problems

Obtaining an addiction is not so simple. For most people, the dose of dopamine that is released in response to a stimulus is not enough to turn off the prefrontal cortex and turn a person into a zombie. However, some people do have a a predisposition to addiction.

Addiction will not occur in a person with a stable psyche who is good at controlling aspirations. Finally, there are people who notice in time that substances or certain actions take up a lot of space in their life and are able to stop or seek help.

External factors also contribute to the development of addiction. The easiest way to illustrate this is through experiments. In one experiment, rats in cages were given unlimited access to a drug and the animals brought themselves to seizures and death, constantly taking new doses. 

In another experiment, special cages with toys, slides, entertainments and other rats were first built for animals. In such conditions, rats still took the drugs but they had enough activities and interests so as not to bring themselves to an overdose.

People are not rats and life is more complicated than experiments but a certain logic is obvious. If your life is empty and you don’t have other origins for pleasure, then the source of light dopamine will attract you like a magnet. One of the main mechanisms due to which addiction is formed is an attempt to drown out melancholy or disappointment.

What to Do About It?

When the addiction is caused by substances that change the processes in the brain and cause withdrawals, then treatment in a drug rehabilitation center will most likely be required under the supervision of a physician who will help overcome the addiction on a physical level. 

If you notice that a habit or certain activity is taking up more and more space in your life, you can try to replace it with something else. Instead of Facebook, you can go for a walk for lunch and pour water into beautiful wine glasses. The assistance of a specialist may still be needed or there will be a risk that another dependency will develop instead of the current one.

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