Many of us have been affected by addiction, directly or indirectly. From alcoholism, to opioid addiction, or even eating addictions! But so many people don’t how addiction works.
Well how does it work?
The brain is a powerful organ but has its flaws. The brain uses chemicals to tell our bodies different things. Some of those chemicals you might be familiar with:
- Acetylcholine– for movement
- Serotonin– inhibitory/ “sleep”
- Dopamine– excitatory/ “happiness
Different activities trigger different chemicals causing us to move, feel happy, feel Â excited, or help us go to sleep.
Naturally our brains have a reward system in place. You do something good, you get a reward. The brain keeps a tally of what feels good and what feels bad.
For example: you go exercise, you feel happy and lower your stress levels, your brain will remember that and want more of it.
But this method has its flaws. Drugs or natural stimuli can have similar reactions in the brain. Taking a hard drug or having sex can cause a similar excitatory reaction in our brain by releasing a large amount of dopamine giving the brain a memory that indicates the good feeling. If the brain gets used to this large surge of dopamine it will constantly want more.
Here is where addiction comes in. Once the brain has felt that increase of dopamine, it will ask for more and more to reach that reward system boost needed. The problem is when the behavior is continuous and the person abuses the drug or natural stimulus because their brain needs more.
If that’s how addiction starts, why can’t we just stop it?
Well a lot of research has shown that the frontal lobe gets affected by addiction (that is to drugs, sex, or even something as simple as eating). The size of the frontal lobe decreases with addiction causing that constant need of a dopamine surge. For the brain to operate correctly, it needs to have a balance of dopamine. When the frontal lobe is lacking, it throws off the balance and causes the brain’s need for more dopamine.
So why can’t you just kick that addiction and get a job? Well it’s not your fault that you can’t easily quit it. In my opinion the systems we have in place currently to help people with addiction are not working.
In my opinion
I can’t see how anyone can just go in for a month of treatment and walk out saying they are done. Their brain will not let them because of that constant crave. I believe that there should be more of a personalized approach to this problem.
People need constant attention to kick this addiction and to have someone ready to help in moments of weakness not judge them. I think that the public needs to learn the problem behind addiction and to move towards a solution that focuses on the person within the addiction, not the addiction itself.