Addictions with or without Drugs

BY: Neighbors’ Consejo|

Addictions are currently recognized as a mental health problem, given their growth and constant variations in the face of the addictive element. Before, when the word addiction was used, it was referring exclusively to the use of drugs, but today its meaning encompasses a number of repetitive behaviors that derive from the person’s psychological well-being [1] .

According to Merriam-Webster [2] dictionary, addiction is “a compulsive, chronic, physiological need for a habit-forming substances, behavior, or activity having harmful physical, psychological, or social effects and typically causing well-defined symptoms (such as anxiety, irritability, tremors, or nausea) upon withdrawal or abstinence: the state of being addicted”.

It is important to highlight that although we are all exposed to simulating and rewarding environments, not all of us develop an addiction. The chain of use, abuse and addiction has small limits, such as gratification or positive reinforcement, but if there is a capacity for self-control in the person, in addiction there is a loss of control, the individual becomes prey to consumption, not for gratification but for the reduction of pleasure and the negative reinforcement of withdrawal [3].  

The causes of addictive behaviors are multiple, among which are genetic, biological, psychological factors [4]  and great tendency to social factors such as lifestyle, environment, emotions, etc. Regarding the biological causes, it is known that the brain releases substances such as dopamine, which stimulate connections that reinforce behavior, changing the way the brain works through reward and punishment mechanism. Similarly, it has been shown that addiction alters certain parts of the brain linked to motivation and pleasure, as well as the prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and setting priorities.

The addiction causes the reward system, cravings and tolerance, disinterest in other activities and loss of control. If we talk about substance abuse, some of the symptoms are trouble managing work, school, or household responsibilities because of substance use, unease or discomfort if you cannot easily access the substance, a need to use more of the substance to experience the same effect, an inability to stop using the substance, etc [5] .

Then, if we talk about behavioral addiction, there are two types: gambling addiction and internet gaming disorder and at this time, the abuse of technology and social networks have been identified. Some of the signs are: using the behavior to manage unwanted emotions, spending large amounts of time engaging in the behavior, hiding the behavior or lying to other people about time spent on it, difficulty avoiding the behavior, feeling compelled to continue the behavior even when it causes distress, etc [6] .

There are always solutions. Some of them are residential treatment, therapy, medications and support groups. It is good that you seek support and that the only addiction you should have is to take care of your emotional well-being.








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