The Psychology of Addiction
Why is addiction largely a mental state, and why addicts are more addicted to their addiction?
Addiction is primarily psychological, though addiction is defined by physiological changes in the body, and addiction is still viewed as a social, cultural, genetic, and experiential process. Addictive behavior can be defined as any behavior that provides temporary or short-term pleasure as well as relief from discomfort, despite the possibility of long-term negative consequences.
Addiction is generally defined as a dependence on any drug caused by substance abuse. Addiction can be caused by any drug or alcohol, as well as by other things such as the internet, gaming, gadgets, chocolates, and so on. However, the physical and psychological effects of drugs and alcohol are harmful, resulting in decreased productivity, withdrawal and physical dependence, lack of attention, and other conditions. The primary feature of addiction is dependence, in which an individual develops increased psychological and physiological dependence on the addictive substance and is unable to return to normal life without the addictive substance.
Dependence on anything is not necessarily a bad thing, and as social beings, we are expected to have some level of social dependence. However, when there is an excessive dependence with an inability to live without the substance in question, withdrawal symptoms occur, as do physiological changes in the body, including pain, and medical attention is required in some cases. Addiction is a severe dependence that can cause people to lose their sense of reality as they become crippled without the substance to which they are addicted. Addiction leads to crime and anti-social behaviour because addicts will resort to violent behaviour, stealing, and murder in order to obtain what they desire.
Addiction to a substance can be distinguished from healthy use of the substance; for example, while some amount of alcohol is considered acceptable and healthy in a social setting, being completely dependent on alcohol to the point of addiction can have negative social and personal consequences for the individual.
Opium, alcohol, nicotine, and barbiturates are some of the most commonly used addictive drugs and substances. Giving up any addiction requires strength, and it is primarily mental strength that aids in the cessation of any addictive behaviour. Thus, if addiction is a disease, the cure or even prevention of addiction is largely a psychological process, implying that the’mind’ is responsible for the addiction, both at the start and at the end.
Using addictive substances stimulates and releases pleasure-inducing neurotransmitters in the brain, and dependence on this feeling of pleasure leads to more of the same pleasure-seeking behaviour, which can spiral out of control and is no longer under the control of the individual, who is then completely controlled by his addiction rather than the other way around.
Withdrawal or abstinence symptoms of an addictive substance may include anxiety, depression, craving, irritability, restlessness, or even suicidal ideation. Cravings, irritability, depression, and anxiety are all psychological withdrawal symptoms of addiction, though they are all closely related to physical withdrawal symptoms.
So addiction is mostly in the mind, and if a person wants to, he or she can overcome this extreme dependence on an activity or a substance through self-control and better understanding of his or her condition.
Addiction is generally defined as a dependence on any drug caused by substance abuse. Addiction can be caused by any drug or alcohol, as well as by other things such as the internet, gaming, gadgets, chocolates, and so on. However, the physical and psychological effects of drugs and alcohol are harmful, resulting in decreased productivity, withdrawal and physical dependence, lack of attention, and other conditions.
The primary feature of addiction is dependence, in which an individual develops increased psychological and physiological dependence on the addictive substance and is unable to return to normal life without the addictive substance.
Why do people develop addiction?
Individuals with mood disorders or people who are prone to frequent depression are prone to addiction because any addictive substance or drug, or even activity such as sex, that provides short-term pleasure can cause the addict to return to this activity or substance over and over again, causing the depression to be forgotten for a while. This desire for short-term pleasure leads to repeated pleasure-seeking behaviour, which leads to addiction.
Addicts are thus obsessed and largely depressed individuals who use their obsession to combat or overcome their depression. They are socially withdrawn, despite having a large circle of friends with whom they may not be able to relate on all levels. Addicts are also susceptible to suggestions, as well as the opinions of others. Strange as it may sound, addicts are easily moulded or changed, as well as easily hypnotised because they are impressionable and easily influenced by what others and society have to say about them. Addicts’ weakness is also their strength, as both negative and positive influences can have an equal impact on them, and proper guidance is required to show them what is good for them and what is bad.
How is addiction managed and overcome?
Stopping or overcoming any addiction can be difficult, but because addicts are changeable and easily affected, it may be relatively easy to return them to normal life if they receive the right type of guidance and counselling.
One strategy for treating addictive behaviour is ‘diversion,’ which involves providing alternative substances/activities or shifting their attention or interest away from the addictive substance or object. As a TV addict, you could be encouraged to develop more constructive habits, such as reading.
Another method would be ‘substitution,’ in which a person addicted to alcohol could be encouraged to drink a drink that tastes like wine but does not contain alcohol.
‘Eradication,’ or the complete absence of the addictive substance or object, can gradually lead to forgetting the pleasurable substance and developing interests in other activities. The complete absence of a drug, even a sleeping pill, can lead to a reduction in addiction and help the addict develop other interests, though this should not be done abruptly as physiological and psychological withdrawal symptoms may occur. If a person becomes addicted to a specific medicine or pill, the doses can be gradually reduced before the drug is completely stopped.
Finally, ‘suggestion’ or counselling to change behaviour highlighting the negative effects of a drug or an obsessive activity may be effective at a later stage after withdrawal from the drug or activity has been attempted, as addicts lose all sense of reality and may not even want to listen to advice when in need of any substance. So, only after their dependence has been reduced to a certain extent through the use of other methods of substitution, eradication, or diversion could counselling assist them in exhibiting more reasonable and socially responsible behaviour and preventing further relapse conditions.
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