The demands for survival in this century are harder to meet than any other we have known in the past ages. From workaholic fathers immersed in work to provide for their families, to stressed mothers meeting both work and family demands and to children growing up without a reliable figures to look up to for social, mental, spiritual and physical growth. Everyone has tasted a piece of this bitter cake but it leaves a big vacuum for fulfillment in everyone's heart.
We are in an era that is bombarded with gigantic workloads, massive economic constraints and virtually no time for one to relax. with this has come the several “quick fix” pleasures that offer a temporary relief from our many challenges and satisfy a wide range of needs. These range from drugs, smoking, internet, alcohol and gambling which are among the most addictive things in the world.
Whenever people talk of addiction, our minds generally envision a helpless “junkie” hooked on drugs in some abandoned building in the middle of nowhere. It is commonly narrowed down to drugs, but addictions spread across so many spheres of life.
In the simplest form, an addiction is a compulsive desire to recurrently partake of a certain substance, behavior or activity that may impair a person’s daily activities and health. This can be related to a number of things. It could be a behavior like smoking, a substance like soda or an activity like “facebooking” Whatever it may be, one way to know it is an addiction is realizing whether one has control over the activity or it is an obsessive compulsion that helplessly drives them into an activity even when they would prefer not to.
The neuropsychologists have a simple explanation for an addiction. The brain has a reward system on which it operates to ensure every positive occurrence in a person’s life is rewarded. Every time something good happens to a person, from a nice meal, sex or taking a drug, the brain releases a neurotransmitter called “dopamine” in the brain’s pleasure center (nucleus accumbens ) which stimulates feelings of happiness.
Human beings are conditioned to release large amounts of dopamine whenever the primary needs are satisfied. Every time dopamine is released into the nucleus accumbens, the amygdala registers the emotion and the hippocampus creates a conditioned response to the occurrence. When a person does something pleasurable, it creates a shortcut to the brain’s pleasure center , flooding it with dopamine. With repeated use, it then starts competing with the pleasure that comes from satisfying primary needs. Eventually it stimulates the release of more dopamine from the activity than the primary needs. This is what kicks starts an addiction, at that point when some finds taking a drug a bigger priority than eating food when hungry.
Most times it takes a long drift for someone to realize they are hooked onto a behavior or substance. Unfortunately by this time, someone may have the desire to control their response towards the addictive habit but they can no longer control the compulsion
These steps can help you know whether you are on a path to an addiction.
1. How often does it happen?
How often you engage in a particular behavior can always alert you on how important it is and it is a great indicator that you are going beyond the limits with the activity.
2. How much time is spent on it?
We hardly spend hours trying to brush our teeth yet it is a healthy habit, that is because it is essential but we do not need to spend many hours brushing. Similarly addictive habits could be a result of over usage of something beneficial beyond the limits of its significance.
3. Does it control or disrupt daily activities?
Taking a bottle of beer during a party over the weekend may have bearable but taking three bottles of beer on Monday morning shortly before work could have a grave bearing on a person’s career. If a person finds themselves making decisions that continuously threaten their physical, mental or social well-being because of a particular habit, it could mean they have lost control.
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