Other Types Of Addiction: Addictive Activities
Some activities can be as addictive as drugs and alcohol because they also trigger the release of endorphins, adrenaline, or other powerful chemicals within the brain. These pursuits meet the criteria of addiction when they are engaged in obsessively without regard for negative life consequences.
Certain mental health disorders are often at the root of these addictive behaviors which may require a recovery program to stop their destructive cycle. Some examples of addictions to non-substances include:
- Internet Gaming or Virtual Reality
- Compulsive Lying
Brain Therapies For Addiction
When someone battling addiction enters a facility, they receive medication and have access to innovative treatments. A common treatment to stabilize and soothe the brain after addiction is biofeedback therapy. This allows a professional to monitor the brain. They can figure out how to improve brain activity, reducing the effects of addiction and unhealthy impulses.
Biofeedback uses electroencephalograms . EEGs are typically used to help individuals who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and can be helpful to individuals with obsessive compulsive disorder and other brain disorders. Biofeedback reduces stress and reduces involuntary functions. This therapy can also include meditation, guided imagery, and muscle relaxation.
When this is combined with therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavioral therapy , biofeedback improves the individuals involuntary functions, like heartbeat, blood pressure, and muscle contraction. Neurofeedback, or EEQ therapy, is a type of biofeedback. This therapy is a brain-training treatment. In the case of addiction, this therapy monitors the brains activity. It helps patients to reduce stress and anxiety and can treat compulsions. The end result of both therapies is the administrator rewarding the brain to recover how it functions.
Rewarding The Brain: How Addictions Develop
The brain regulates temperature, emotion, decision-making, breathing, and coordination. This major organ of the body also impacts physical sensations in the body, cravings, compulsions, and habits. Under the influence of a powerful and harmful chemical, individuals abusing substances like Benzodiazepines or Heroin can alter the function of their brain.
Drugs interact with the limbic system in the brain to release strong feel-good emotions, affecting the individuals body and mind. Individuals continue taking drugs to support the intense feel-good emotions the brain releases; this creates a cycle of drug use and intense highs. Eventually, they take the drug just to feel normal.
Recommended Reading: How To Stop Addictive Behavior
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Addiction
There are no substances that universally or uniformly cause people to become addicted. And the vast majority of people exposed to most substances considered addictive do not in fact develop addiction to them. Rather, a very complex array of cultural factors, social factors, and situational factors mingle with psychological factors, biological factors, and even personal values to influence the possibility of addiction.
Many different theories of addiction exist because they weight the role of contributing factors differently. Some current models of addiction emphasize the causative role of individual variations in biology or genes that make a substance or experience feel more or less pleasurable. Many models of addiction highlight the causative role of individual psychological factors, whether personality factors such as impulsiveness or sensation-seeking, or psychopathology such as the negative effects of early trauma. Other models of addiction emphasize the role that social and economic factors play in shaping behavior, such as the strength of family and peer relationships and the presence of absence of educational and employment opportunities.
Is There A Brain Malfunction That Causes Addiction
The common but mistaken view of addiction as a brain disease suggests that there is some malfunction in the brain that leads to addiction. But that is not the case. Studies show that repeated use of a substance , encouraged by a surge in dopamine, creates changes in the wiring of the brainand those changes are reversible after drug use stops.
Neuroscience research supports the idea that addiction is a habit that becomes deeply entrenched and self-perpetuating, rewiring the circuitry of the brain as it is repeated. The repetition of a highly pleasurable experiencedrugs, gamblingalters neurons; they adjust their wiring to become increasingly efficient at the experience. They prune away their capacity to respond to other inputs. It is a form of deeply engraved learning. As drug use stops, engaging in other rewarding activities rewires the brain to find interest and pleasure in non-drug pursuits.
Also Check: How To Help An Addict Without Enabling
The Role Of Genes In Drug Addiction
PRINT THIS PAGE
The disease known as;drug addiction;shares many features with other chronic illnessesone of which is;heritability, meaning a tendency to run in families. Scientists are now studying how;genes;can play a role in making a person vulnerable to drug addiction, or in protecting a person against drug addiction.
While the;environment;a person grows up in, along with a person’s behavior, influences whether he or she becomes addicted to drugs,;genetics;plays a key role as well. Scientists estimate that genetic factors account for 40 to 60 percent of a person’s vulnerability to addiction.;
The National Institute on Drug Abuse is currently supporting a major research effort to identify gene variations that make a person vulnerable to drug addiction. This effort involves studying;DNA , which directs the development of every human cell . By mapping DNA sequences in drug addicts, scientists have been able to isolate gene sequences that indicate a greater risk of becoming addicted to drugs. These gene sequences contain the instructions for producing specific;proteins, which perform most of a body’s life functions. The way these proteins function, or don’t function, can indicate how vulnerable a person is to drug addiction .
What Role Does Childhood Trauma Play In Addiction
Adverse childhood experiences such as trauma, especially combined with an unpredictable and chaotic childhood, pose a risk factor for many kinds of maladaptive behaviors and poor health outcomes. Studies show that having multiple ACEs puts children at risk of poor school performance, unemployment, and high-risk health behaviors including smoking and drug use.
Prolonged stress during childhood dysregulates the normal stress response and, through overproduction of cortisol, is especially harmful to the brains hippocampus, impairing memory and learning. Severe or sustained early life adversity shifts the course of brain development and can lastingly impair emotion regulation and cognitive development. What is more, it can sensitize the stress response system so that it overresponds to minimal levels of threat, making people feel easily overwhelmed by lifes normal difficulties. Research shows a strong link between ACEs and opioid drug abuse as well as alcoholism.
Don’t Miss: How Do Meth Addicts Act
Can Drug Addiction Be Cured Or Prevented
As with most other chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, treatment for drug addiction generally isnt a cure. However, addiction is treatable and can be successfully managed. People who are recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse for years and possibly for their whole lives. Research shows that combining addiction treatment medicines with behavioral therapy ensures the best chance of success for most patients. Treatment approaches tailored to each patients drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems can lead to continued recovery.
More good news is that drug use and addiction are preventable. Results from NIDA-funded research have shown that prevention programs involving families, schools, communities, and the media are effective for preventing or reducing drug use and addiction. Although personal events and cultural factors affect drug use trends, when young people view drug use as harmful, they tend to decrease their drug taking. Therefore, education and outreach are key in helping people understand the possible risks of drug use. Teachers, parents, and health care providers have crucial roles in educating young people and preventing drug use and addiction.
The Brain Addiction And Withdrawal
As a consequence of drug addiction, the brain rewards the harmful behavior. It encourages drug addiction, keeping the individual in a cycle of highs and lows; the user may feel like theyre on an emotional roller-coaster, feeling desperation and depression without their substance of abuse. Once someone suddenly stops using, there are harsh mental, physical, and emotional results. Individuals may experience distressing symptoms they cannot ignore for some substances; withdrawal symptoms are generally stronger for some substances than others.
At the point of withdrawal, someone who stops using Heroin experiences intense cravings, depression, anxiety, and sweating. Much of this is due to the rewiring of the brain after extended Heroin use. In this stage, the individual may not have a full-blown addiction; a tolerance or dependency may have developed, however. Over time, the high volume of chemicals floods the brain; the brain correspondingly adapts to the mental effects of the substance. The brain then reduces its production of neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain. Withdrawal symptoms often need professional treatment, which can significantly help reduce the chance of relapse and the risks of stroke and heart attack.
Get Help During COVID-19
With just 30 days at a rehab center, you can get clean and sober, start therapy, join a support group, and learn ways to manage your cravings.
Don’t Miss: How To Cope With Addiction
What Happens To The Brain When People Take Drugs
Drugs affect the communication system in the brain by interrupting how it normally processes information in a couple of different ways. One is when certain drugs mimic chemical messengers, and the other is that they stimulate the reward center of the brain.
Chemical messengers are neurotransmitters, which are naturally produced in the brain. Some drugs, such as opiates or marijuana, are able to essentially trick the brain into sending abnormal messages creating a false reaction. On the other hand, uppers such as cocaine or methamphetamine cause the neurotransmitters such as dopamine to be released in huge amounts. Both patterns disrupt normal communication in the brain.
Neurotransmitters regulate movement, emotion, and feelings of pleasure. When this system is over stimulated, it causes us to feel a false sense of euphoria in response to drugs. This response creates a fake pattern, which essentially teaches people to repeat the behavior of using drugs to try to keep acquiring the sense of euphoria it creates.
Behavioral Or Impulse Control Problems
Children who frequently take risks and have difficulty controlling impulses or following rules are at higher risk for substance use problems. While most teens understand the dangers of taking risks, some have particular difficulty resisting impulses to engage in risky behavior. The term addictive personality is often used to describe the characteristics of people with this set of behavior traits.
Is There An Addictive Personality
It is a myth that there is some personality factor that is specific for the development of addiction and makes addiction likely. There are a number of personality traits widely shared in the population that contribute to the risk of developing an addiction, usually in indirect ways. For example, people prone to thrill-seeking may be more likely than others to find themselves in situations where drugs are used or to experiment with any number of activitiesthink: bungee jumping, base-jumpingor substances that provide outsize rewards.
Studies show that those who are high in the trait of neuroticismthey are prone to experiencing negative emotionsare overwhelmed by minor frustrations and interpret ordinary situations as stressful. Neuroticism is linked to a wide array of mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders as well as substance abuse. Neuroticism is also linked to a diminished quality of life, another factor that could increase the allure of substance use.
The Most Common Addictions
Millions of people around the world struggle with SUDs. Some of the most common drugs that impede peoples lives include:
Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelors and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffreys desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffreys mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
David embarked on his journey into sobriety in June of 2005, which led him to his current career path as a Certified Professional Addiction Recovery Coach in private practice in Greater Nashville. David is also a public speaker and the author of two books. David is cohost of the weekly Positive Sobriety Podcast, as well as being a frequent contributor to various articles and recovery based materials. As a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors , David works closely with Nashville area treatment centers, nonprofit recovery organizations, and consulting with faith-based groups trying to bridge the gap between the recovery communities and faith-based organizations who wish to understand addiction.
What Are The Most Common Substances Of Abuse
Around the world and in the U.S., nicotine is the most widely used addictive substance; tobacco causes a reported 40 million deaths worldwide. According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, smoking kills more than 1,000 Americans every day, and although tobacco use is generally declining in the U.S. its use is increasing among some groups of young people, especially in the form of vaping, or inhaling nicotine vapors.
Alcohol in some form is widely used for pleasurable purposes and is an important part of the social fabric worldwide, today as in ancient times. Nevertheless, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 14.6 million U.S. adults over the age of 18 have alcohol use disorder, marked by uncontrolled drinking. Around the world, 240 million people are reportedly dependent on alcohol; alcohol abuse is most prevalent in Eastern Europe and least prevalent among Asians.
Painkillers including prescription opiates such as oxycodone and fentanyl and the illegal drug heroin account for more than 10 percent of all addictions in the U.S, affecting more than 2.5 million people, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Depressive agents such as sedatives and tranquilizers are widely used medically to combat stress, anxiety, and sleep disorders, but NIDA reports that 3.5 to 5 percent of the population uses tranquilizers and sleeping pills nonmedically.
Looking For A Place To Start
Reach out to a treatment provider for free today.
Krystina Murray has received a B.A. in English at Georgia State University, has over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience, and over 15 years of overall writing experience. She enjoys traveling, fitness, crafting, and spreading awareness of addiction recovery to help people transform their lives.
- LiveScience.com. Pappas, Stephanie. . This Is Your Brain On Drugs . Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
- LiveScience.com. Saplakoglu, Yasemin. . How Drug Addiction Hijacks The Brian. Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
- Neuroceters.com. . Neuroceters.com. . Whats The Difference Between Biofeedback And Neurofeedback? Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
- NCIB.com. Dimeff, Linda. Linehan, Marsha. . Dialectical Behavior Therapy For Substance Abuse. Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
- NCIB.com. Gray, Sarah. . An Overview of The Use Of Neurofeedback Biofeedback For The Treatment Of Symptoms Of Traumatic Brain Injury In Military And Civilian Populations. Retrieved On June 18, 2019 at
Changing The Brain’s Reward System
Drug addiction is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brainthey change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long-lasting and can lead to harmful behaviors.
Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision-making, learning and memory, and behavior control.
Research tells us that repeated use of a drug actually begins to make chemical changes in the brain that alters the brain’s reward system. When someone continues to use a substance even when it no longer provides pleasure, it’s called the pathological pursuit of rewards, or addiction.
Usually, it takes some time for a drug to begin to change the brain’s reward system to the point that a person forms an addiction, but some drugs can do so very quickly.
Injecting Snorting & Smoking Increase Addiction Risk
Heroin is an opioid, and most opioids affect the brain in the same way. So why do many people say heroin is more addictive? Most people smoke, snort or shoot heroin. These methods of administration have more immediate effects on the brain than swallowing a drug, according to the Genetic Science Learning Center at the University of Utah.
Many prescription drugs have formulas that make pills difficult to crush and snort or to melt and inject. When a person swallows a pill, the medication goes through the stomach and liver, where its slowly absorbed into the bloodstream. The brain gradually feels the drug over time.
But when a person smokes, injects or snorts a drug, it can reach the brain in seconds. The brain is more likely to become addicted to a drug when the full dose of the drug enters the brain all at once. Heroin is rarely swallowed in a pill, so its more likely to cause addiction because its almost always used in high-risk ways.
When Pregnant Women Drink Excessive Alcohol Or Take Drugs
Whatever a pregnant woman does, it will affect the child that is inside the belly. If she drinks alcohol, it has a chance of intoxicating the baby inside, the same goes with drugs. Therefore, making sure that women dont take drugs and do substance abuse during pregnancy can stop the child from ever developing a drug addiction issue at a later stage in their life.
Does Everyone Who Takes Drugs Become Addicted
Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted. Everyone’s bodies and brains are different, so their reactions to drugs can also be different. Some people may become addicted quickly, or it may happen over time. Other people never become addicted. Whether or not someone becomes addicted depends on many factors. They include genetic, environmental, and developmental factors.