Do You Know Why You Do Anything Twice? If Yes, You Understand Addiction
Written by Dr. Cory Reich, Ph.D., Posted on , in Section Relationships That Matter
Understand why you keep going back for more!
If you know why you do anything twice, you understand addiction. Addiction begins in the need to survive and feel pleasure, both of these primary human concerns are directed and supported initially by a neurochemical in the brain called dopamine.
When we eat foods critical for our survival, do things that create a safe environment, and act in the area of reproduction, we are satisfying survival imperatives. The brain knows that these three things are the most important to live the next 3 minutes!
In order to learn, remember, and be motivated to do those things that ensure survival again, these actions or substances are rewarded in the brain by dopamine. The place in the brain that this occurs is in the deep preconscious part of the brain, called the ventral tegmental area. We are not conscious of the dopamine acting to identify and tag those behaviors and substances that support survival, but we certainly feel the “pleasure” when we do!
This critical brain function has kept us alive and surviving for a long time. When we are talking about normal life challenges, consumption of healthy foods, and healthy intimate relationships, this delicate pleasure system works perfectly. However, there are some substances and behaviors that “trick” the brain to think that they are the very best at ensuring survival.
What tricks the brain? Substances that release much more dopamine than a chocolate chip cookie, but a tsunami of dopamine--like drugs. Drugs trigger the release of huge amounts of dopamine and cause the brain to tag the drug and the new, best, and “man you are so lucky to find this” survival source. However, it is a lie!
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