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How Addiction Works (And What You Can Do About It)

You’re on your laptop doing unsurmountable work when you start feeling like you aren’t going to get everything done in time. You feel stressed, however, now, you notice that isn’t the only thing that you feel. You notice an itching in your throat. Your fore- and middle-finger begin to twitch a little bit. Your breathing starts to get a little heavy, and you feel like there’s something missing. You need a cigarette. You need it badly. However, you know that you’ve just taken a smoke not even 30 minutes ago, and you know that your colleagues don’t really like the smell of tobacco. Should you go, or not? Your blood pressure begins to rise. You need to make a decision NOW. Do I go down for a quick puff? Maybe not or should I? Without noticing it, you’ve already got your pack in your left hand, your lighter in your right. You stand up with the look of defeat on your face as you slowly trudge to the elevator. You admit it, “I’m addicted.”

How does this really work though? What really happens in your brain that makes cigarettes so hard to resist? What makes addiction the way it is? Whether you’re addicted to sugary snacks or maybe something as outrageous as cocaine, what makes it so difficult to resist?

Well, what happens when you constantly take something, like sugar, nicotine, or other hard drugs is that, often times, when we get addicted, it’s because we associate such good thoughts or memories with such substances. With sugar, you’d associated the creamy goodness of what you’re eating when you’re munching down on that 5-pound gummy bear. Similarly, with nicotine, when you start to take the first puff, often times, you believe that it reduces stress. Well, really, it doesn’t. The only reason why it’s so is because that you’ve attached that kind of belief to it. A belief so strong that it actually works. It’s kind of like the placebo effect.

However, what’s more interesting is that when you’ve attached these positive thoughts or anecdotes to these substances, whenever you partake of these substances, the pleasure center of your brain is also activated in a way that causes it to release dopamine and similar hormones that make you feel good, by increasing excitement, alertness, activity, and mood. As a result of this, you’ll start to do the activity more, and as a result of repeated use, the brain is conditioned to repeat these habits.

When your brain is conditioned to repeat these habits regularly to get a kick from your pleasure center every now and then, you’ll obviously then tend to try to repeat it much more often than you used to. This means that you start doing these actions much more often.

However, in a sort of endless cycle, when you start to increase your intake of these substances like nicotine and sugar, what will normally happen is that your brain starts to get used to these habits, and the release of dopamine and the activation of your pleasure center becomes a lot less intense. You don’t really get a kick from it, or at least, you don’t get the same kick as you used to. What then happens is that, in an effort to get the same kick out of it again, like how it used to be, you’ll almost always simply start abusing it more. You’ll smoke more cigarettes in a day, you’ll eat more sugar. You’ve basically attached such good feelings about a substance in your brain that your brain will always instinctively think that whenever you need feel, for example, stressed, that you’ll need a cigarette. And when one cigarette isn’t enough, you’ll need another one. And when that isn’t enough either, you’ll need another one after that.

I have to admit, I’ve been addicted to cigarettes, and it is a very dangerous path to get down on. It took me a very long time to get off of it. However, you’ll realize that once you’re already off it that you probably didn’t need it as much as you thought you did in the first place. However, that is the most difficult part, isn’t it – getting yourself motivated enough to actually quit?

However, as difficult as it might be, you’ll often hear success stories of people who used to be drug, alcohol, or smoke addicts who have gone through rehabilitation and are now living amount of years off these substances as well. So, it can be done. Where do you start?

How do I get myself to stop abusing [substance name], and get on my way on the path to rehabilitation? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Well, luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place. And the action of simply taking the initiative to look for this article and other similar articles means that you’re actively looking for ways to get better. Props to you for that.

There are a few things that you’ll need to remember when trying to get off of addiction. Many people believe it’s as simple as just stopping the habit. You’ll often hear them say “Why don’t you just stop?” Well, they obviously don’t understand, or rather, have not experienced being mentally, physically, and psychologically addicted to abusive substance before. I’ll tell you now, it isn’t easy. However, understand that these substances are also destroying your life.

Overcoming any addiction may involve a lot of things. However, the first place to start would be to involve as many people as possible in your rehabilitation process. While you might feel that this might alienate a lot of people near you, if you have enough people that actually really care, they will genuinely actively participate in ways of getting you off of it. Tell them to be strict on you, and to not tolerate any funny business. Soon enough, you’ll find that they’ll even be happy to snap that cigarette in two when they find you about to light one up.

Another thing you can do, which is often underestimated, is to utilize the power of self-reassurance. This means that you should always remember to tell yourself whenever you get the urge to pick up a cigarette or another beer, that you “don’t need another one.” Keep reassuring yourself, until you start believing it. You know how back in grade school, you’d be telling a lie and just kept repeating it to everyone you know until you eventually believed it? Doing it this way would produce the same results. Keep telling yourself you don’t need a smoke or a beer, or any other addictive substance, and eventually, you will believe it as well.

However, if your addiction is incredibly severe, it is never a bad idea to seek help from professionals.

One thing to note that someone once told me when trying to quit cigarettes was to get my mindset right. That I was not “quitting” anything, where I would be telling my mind that I was giving something up. Instead, I was “becoming a nonsmoker. This really helped. As well as not giving up. We will often relapse back into our habits and vices, however, it is important to always remember that when you do relapse, to try again, and again, and again, until one day, you don’t.

Well, good luck!

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