What Are Root Causes Of Addictive Behaviors

addictive behaviors

Addictive Behaviors Come In All Shapes And Sizes: Why Do We Overdo

Addictive behaviors are not all bad. Some of our repeated and obsessive habits can be helpful, like keeping clean if you’re a doctor or chef. But overdoing any behavior, even eating, until you can’t stop is a hallmark of addiction. Addiction requires help and support to recover and heal. So let’s unpack addiction and its definition.

Addiction is a very complex disease that affects thinking and behavior, affecting the body, mind and spirit. Substance abuse and addiction almost always have an underlying cause, and the root causes of the addiction must be addressed to achieve long term recovery. The most common causes of addiction are chronic stress, history of trauma, mental illness, and family history of addiction. You can get help with alcohol rehab laguna beach. By understanding how these underlying issues can lead to chronic substance abuse and addiction, you can reduce your risk of addiction and find a path to healing.

What Is Addiction And How Does If Affect Your Brain

Addiction is characterized by the inability to stop a problem behavior, like using drugs or alcohol, even when their use causes problems in your life. Compulsive drug use, despite its negative consequences, is the result of changes in brain function and structure that affect how you think and behave. When you use drugs or alcohol, the neurotransmitter dopamine is released in the brain, which triggers feelings of pleasure. The memory area of the brain records the memory of that feeling. The learning center forms the relationship between pleasure, drug use and the environmental stimuli present during use, which are called triggers.

Over time, the connections the brain makes between consumption and pleasure become stronger and can lead to intense cravings. This intense desire is generated by the same mechanisms that drive us to eat food and reproduce to survive. Addiction-related changes in brain function and structure affect how we think and behave. That’s why it’s so easy to justify drug use. It’s easy to find excuses to not get help, or stop. When your brain function changes and addiction takes over, you do things you never would have done before, like lying, stealing and often getting violent. When left untreated, addictions only get worse. 

How Trauma Can Lead To Addictive Behaviors

Traumatic negative childhood experiences are the most common causes of addictive behaviors. Adverse childhood experiences can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, parental disputes, and sexual abuse. Anti-drug campaigns aimed at inciting fear of these substances ignore the fact that the most vulnerable young people do not use them primarily for pleasure. Instead, traumatized young people use substances to dull their pain.

Studies of domestic abuse, neglect, and distraction found that those who had more than five negative childhood experiences were seven to 10 times more likely to report substance use problems later in life. These findings reinforce the need to refocus funding on the root cause: adverse childhood experiences.

Why Do Early Experiences Have Lasting Impact On Emotional Life

These early experiences affect the brain differently than experiences in adulthood, producing long-lasting neurological changes. Outside the brain, these changes affect parental attachment, leading to changes in a person’s ability to form secure attachments in their relationships later in life. Some other addictions like internet use, gaming and various forms of gambling in online games, these are the common risks of behavioral additions that children are facing today.

The recent recognition of behavioral addiction in the DSM-V further emphasizes that substances are not necessary for addiction to develop. Although substances are often involved in addiction, they are not the primary cause.

Adverse Childhood Experiences Have Many Forms With Lasting Impact

Adverse childhood experiences and other forms of pain do not have to be traumatic. The field of psychology that defines trauma usually involves actual or threatened death or some other extreme event involving hopelessness or horror. A person may never have a major experience that fits the typical definition of trauma but may suffer in the long term because of their perception of certain initial events.

For example, a child may internalize a careless comment about his weight and carry those words with him throughout his life. These internalized words distort their sense of self, leading to a spiral of increasingly distorted perceptions as they interact with others and filter the responses of others through this self-stigmatizing identity. This form of emotional pain can lead to unmet psychological needs.

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