We are the swords, iron of which is molded through our habits, routines, and customs. Our personalities are the output of our environment, upbringing, friend circle, what we eat, drink and consume. In the nascent years, our environment, company and food are controlled by our parents, in the latter years starting from teenage, we start acquiring taste of our own. We are inclined towards being visible and making a mark in the world. We want to be recognised by our peers in school, college and work place, we want to stand out, because being famous is the key to happiness, propagated by our families, relatives and the media. We gain a perspective of success, which requires to be on top, to be the best in academics, sports, music, arts and rest of the 1000 skills of Zeus.
Some of us achieve what we set out for, but most of us fail. In midst of all this drama we are also social beings, who like to be recognised and loved. Where another journey of making friends begin. Making friends can be a daunting task for anyone, in any age group. We won’t get along with all, we may not like what we get and we’ll like what we don’t get. There is no formula to be popular and have friends of your choosing, but you can always be content with what you get (wish life was so simple). And here the water’s get stormy. To be cool we try smoking, alcohol and other vices that come along with it. Initially it is just for fun, an adventure, exploration, being part of the ‘cool kids’, but slowly and steadily it creeps into our lifestyles. A silent killer dressed as a temptress.
Addictions are triggered by various factors in our lives and they may change as we age. Addiction starts with the sense of pleasure by consuming or doing something, scientifically speaking release of neurotransmitter dopamine in brain. The sense of pleasure in a stressed-out environment, depression or heartbreak can work as a soothing balm. Contrary to popular belief, dopamine doesn’t appear to actually cause feelings of pleasure or euphoria. Instead, it seems to reinforce your brain’s association between certain things and feelings of pleasure, driving you to seek those things out again in the future.
Flaw in the reward system
As you continue using a substance or engaging in a behaviour, your brain continues to produce larger amounts of dopamine. Eventually, it recognises that there’s plenty of dopamine in your brain already and starts producing less in response to normal triggers. Problem starts here: Your brain’s reward system still needs the same amount of dopamine to function as it should.
Before you know it, you need more of the substance to make up for what your brain isn’t releasing. This effect is called tolerance.
As addiction increases, you start losing interest in other activities, which could lead to job loss, health issues, relationship concerns and withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction is a compulsive behaviour, compelling you to do something, which may not be beneficial to you in any way. Addictions are easy to get into like Venus flytrap, but very hard to get out of. They for a short period of time may provide you pleasure, illusions, and detachment from the real world, but eventually lead to illegal and immoral activities, which could erode your wealth, health and respect in society.
Addictions are vastly classified under – Chemical and Behavioural related.
Chemical addictions are caused by consumption. Procurement and cost may be the first hinderance, followed with deteriorating health, loss of social connections, delusions and discontent from activities that were enjoyable before. Chemical addictions include:
Take professional help in combating this addiction, it is a difficult process to control alone. Join a support group, which can help you intensely in recovery. Comfort and guidance from others working toward recovery can make a lot of difference. There are some medications which can help suppress the cravings and reduce symptoms of withdrawal. Therapy is an important step in combating addictions for people who start using substances to deal with distressing emotions.
Any activity that becomes a compulsion is an addiction. Any compulsive disorder can lead to a problematic situation. Chemical addictions can be satiated if you come from wealth, however Behavioural addictions are harder to satisfy due to societal norms and taboo. Hence identifying them and controlling the urges at early stages can save your reputation, money, and good will in the society. Behavioural addictions include:
- Social Media
Chemical addiction can be counteracted through medicinal substances, however treatment of Behavioural addictions should start with therapy. A type of therapy known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) if often most helpful for behavioural addictions. CBT focuses on paying attention to the thoughts and emotions that cause distress and learning how to reframe them. This combined with more productive coping skills, can reduce the need for addictive behaviours. Other types of therapy can also help address underlying issues that might play a role in behavioural addiction, like relationship issues with family, love interest or or peers.
Self-help groups can also help in resolving behavioural addictions. These groups rely on self-help treatment methods and involve anonymous group support from other people working toward recovery.
We may still not know the reasons and causes for addictions, but one thing that is abundantly clear is that it is treatable. Addictions are a result of an empty space we try to fill using an external influencer. Most of the addictions satisfy a nascent feeling which was suppressed in the past. We need to understand that these substances provide temporary relief, where the down effect post the high puts us into a worse situation. Do we need this? Is this pleasure worth the pain? Are we destroying relationships? Ask yourself these questions before surrendering yourself to your vice.
If there is someone around you suffering from an addiction, don’t disregard them, be the support system which was missing in their life. Love and support can do wonders for an addict, it is one of the most common factors that lead to start of any addiction.
Best addiction is addiction to life, understand the flow of energies in your body and find ecstasy in discovering your purpose in life. Meditation, running and swimming can also release dopamine in brain, the way to it is discipline and dedication. When you start the quest for inner peace and calm, you’ll not need any chemical or activity to induce pleasure, all sensations will be in your reach.