The Trap of Addiction
October 16, 2015
First thing we have to be clear is, for our brain to get addicted it doesn’t matter whether you live in slum or mansion, you are stressed or happy, you are victim of abuse or not. Only thing that really matter is, if you use addictive substance or get involved in addictive behavior beyond the limit, then you will get addicted. Sorry for those guys, who thinks they are superhuman and acts as if they will never get addicted.
Here is the step by step process that leads to addiction:
Beginning is Fun:
Well, beginning days are golden days. You are feeling stressed, troubled, nervous, excited or it’s a get together with your friends or party, there is always your addictive behavior just right besides you, ready to give you euphoria whenever you want to have it. It’s something like ‘Pitcher Plant’ which preys on insects. This plant has a colorful pouch containing nectars; insects are easily lured by its color and nectar, hence go deeper inside the pouch. Once it reaches deep inside the pouch, various mechanism of the plant start working inorder to ensure the insect never escapes. Hence, the insect gets digested by the plant. Similarly, in beginning days, addicting behavior provides, what you want like a best buddy, you feel like you will never get addicted and this behavior is not going to hurt you. But day by day slowly and slowly, it traps you and destroys your life before you even know you are addicted.
Adapting the Change:
It’s no doubt that addicting behavior releases large amount of dopamine, and if you get engaged in it for a while then your system has to adapt. In the process of adaptation our brain desensitizes the dopamine receptor by decreasing its number and our metabolism also gets adapted to break the chemicals of addictive substances in short time. Thus, this increases tolerance level, now the person has to increase the dose of drug or alcohol intake or upgrade to stronger substances in order to experience the same high (pleasure) he previously used to have. In terms of addicting activity like gambling, online dating, excessive shopping etc person either has to increase the duration of addictive activity or advance to new level. And this process doesn’t stop unless you cut off or reduce the addicting behavior. Let’s take a simple example, a person who eats a lot of spicy peppered food hardly feel any burning pain even though he/she consumes peppered food which can easily makes normal person cry. This is because of desensitization of taste buds, that’s why he/she requires more amount of pepper to get the same results, which the normal person will easily get even with small dose of pepper.
On the other hand, other activities like socializing, exercising, playing games etc gets neglected and boring compared to addicting behavior, as they cannot produce as much dopamine as addicting behavior can.
Brain gets conquered:
As one goes more deeper into addiction, he/she can’t stop thinking about how and when to get next high and spends most of his/her time planning, fantasizing about new ways to get high, even though his/her other important tasks gets interfered or neglected. Since even thinking or fantasizing about getting involved in addicting behavior gives pleasure to the addict.
Brain starts searching for various opportunities and excuses for a person to get more indulged in addictive activity. Look at your own life, you might notice how your decisions of choosing the hotel, working place, shops, residential area to choosing friends, partners, social occasions etc are getting influenced by addictive activity consciously or unconsciously. Those things that helps to get indulged in addictive activity gets prioritized and others which don’t, gets neglected.
You may feel drinking just one bottle of alcohol will not hurt anyone which in turn leads to two, three and so on until your body rejects it. You may just want to reward yourself by watching that short porn or chatting (especially with sexual intentions in online dating sites) in your computer but at the end, you notice you have spent several hours or sometimes whole day staring at the screen. You may feel like you just need a small shot of cocaine to better focus on your study, but end up doing till you collapse. You may feel like, you need to gamble to increase your money but end up losing more money. You may feel, today you have worked hard or failed at something, so you feel urged to reward yourself or to overcome the guilt and stress by smoking cigarette. Even though you wanted to avoid eating, you may think, you need to cook or buy something to eat for your family, but end up eating most of it by yourself.
But one still feels his habit is under control and can stop whenever he wants. He feels his indulgence in addictive behavior isn’t doing any harm, even though it is actually doing. Addict can exceed their limit to pursue their behavior but still feels like its normal and nothing is wrong with them.
Some addict tries to defend themselves by saying I smoke only hookah not cigarette. Well tobacco is tobacco and it doesn’t do any good, moreover in some cases hookah is more harmful than cigarette. Well there is no right way to do wrong things and there is no right amount of bad thing. Drug is drug whether it is legal or illegal. Some people say, I only smoke ten cigarettes a day, I am not like him, look at him eww he is a chain smoker. I only drink five glass of alcohol a day and experts say little alcohol is good for health, by the way I don’t drink too much like that alcoholic. These are just some of the way addict defend their addicting behavior.
Next thing that happen to addict is, his decision gets distorted.
Suddenly one day, you wake up and feel guilty. Your logical parts says, okay enough is enough I need to quit and even commit for never using or involving again. You are forgetting one thing, at this point your body and mind has already changed in order to adapt to your addictive behavior. So even though, some logical part of your mind wants change but emotional parts try to ignore the change. So, most addict gives themselves excuse by saying I will stop from tomorrow, next week, next month or after this problem gets solved, this isn’t the right time to stop etc rather than acting right now. On the other hand this gives them excuse to try their addicting behavior to more extreme level, thinking this is their last chance. And finally when the day to quitting comes, they will find another excuse to postpone it.
So, let’s assume you committed to quit your behavior, but still it isn’t going to be easy. I will like to present simple example from my own experience; Well, I don’t think I am addicted to sleeping, but I remember back in college days when I used to study for exam, I used to target myself to study for whole night. Then somewhere around 11PM, my mind used to start giving excuse about why I shouldn’t skip my sleep, it says I should sleep otherwise I will get sick, I will not be able to do well in exam, then it starts giving various facts like “Are you crazy we should sleep atleast 8 hours a day otherwise we will get various diseases, sleeping is good for memory retention and concentration” and list goes on. And as I push myself more further, the temptation to sleep increases more, I start feeling more uncomfortable. Then it starts begging me for just 10-15 minutes of short nap, thinking just 10-15 minutes of small sleep won’t reduce my studying time, I will say “OK”. Then as you have guessed, I used to wake up directly in the next morning.
Well it’s good when mind keeps on giving reasons to convince us to stop, when we try to ignore vital things like eating, sleeping and other beneficial things. But things get bad to those who wants to reduce or quit their addiction. Their mind keeps on giving irrational reasons about why they shouldn’t quit their addiction.
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