Many activities can be addictive,
the main ones being using drugs, eating sugar,
playing video games, gambling, watching pornography
or watching my Youtube videos.
But how can we get addicted to something?
Let’s explore what we know about addiction.
To put it simply, addiction is a condition where an individual is dependant,
both psychologically and physically, to something.
So, it compulsively does an activity despite negative consequences for its health.
Humans can either become addicted to a substance or an activity.
Addictive substances include drugs and foods,
especially those with a lot of sugar.
After many uses of an addictive substance,
the body becomes tolerant to it
and it requires a larger quantity to have the same effects.
Indeed, when a drug increase the concentration of a certain neurotransmitter,
the body tries to restore balance by reducing its quantity.
It also reduces the number of receptors
to which the neurotransmitter can bind.
This moderates the effects of the drug and creates a tolerance to the substance.
Also, if you suddenly stop taking the addictive substance,
you experience various withdrawals
such as headaches, vomiting or depression.
This happens because there is not enough neurotransmitters
as the body slowed down their production.
These factors can lead to drug addiction,
but contrarily to what we used to think,
drug addiction isn’t only caused by the substances themselves.
Actually, many studies have shown that emotional stress
(such as loneliness or depression) plays a very important role in addiction.
People who feel alone often engage in stimulant activities
such as drug usage to relieve themselves from their personal issues.
They then may or may not become addicted to the substance.
For example, during the Vietnam War,
many American soldiers were using drugs to relieve themselves from the horrors of the war.
When they came back home, their drug habits were closely studied.
Surprisingly, most of them stopped using drugs,
as they were now happy and lived in a stable environment.
As for activities, they can be addictive when they are pleasant ones,
because they release excitatory neurotransmitters such as adrenaline or dopamine.
The purpose of this is to make us want to do again the activities essential to the survival of our species,
such as eating or reproducing.
Other activities such as gambling or playing video games
also release excitatory neurotransmitters, but less than essential activities.
However, if we engage too often in these stimulant activities,
the body becomes tolerant to it in a similar way to psychoactive drugs.
It then becomes easy to be addicted to these activities
as our body now prioritizes them over essential activities.
What are the dangers of addiction?
The brain being still in development until 20 to 25 years old,
addiction at a young age can permanently change the way the brain works.
It can modify the concentrations of neurotransmitters
and the connections between neurons.
Also, addiction to some drugs such as cocaine by a mother
causes her babies to be born with a drug addiction.
Finally, addiction has terrible consequences on the social life
of addicted individuals as they often prioritize their addiction
over their work, friends and family.
But is there a way out of addiction?
Historically, many governments have declared the war to drugs.
They tried to solve the problem of drug addiction
by eradicating the supply of psychoactive substances.
So, they made drugs illegal and put drug dealers in jail.
However, this only made the problem worse.
The demand of drugs stayed the same as people were addicted to them.
Even if big drug producers ceased operations,
smaller ones took their place on the market.
Therefore, it encouraged illegal trafficking of drugs by violent cartels.
Also, in small scale operations, drugs were produced in insalubrious conditions,
which contaminated the drug with germs and dangerous chemicals.
This threatened the health of drug users
and polluted the environment.
But now, with our new comprehension of addiction,
we’ve realized that throwing addicted people in jail
and excluding them from society
only worsens their feelings of loneliness.
This makes them want to use drugs even more.
Instead, a better solution would to help addicted people
to solve their personal issues and make social connections.
So, anybody can develop an addiction,
but the best way to avoid one is to have a healthy lifestyle.
Make social connections and be happy!
But beware, happiness is addictive...