UNDERSTANDING ADDICTION

WANTING VS LIKING
– wanting (craving) and liking (satisfaction) are separate aspects of pleasure
– in addictions and compulsive behaviours, craving takes on a life of its own

WANTING
– wanting/craving is a powerful motivational circuit originating in the lower parts of the brain
– the core feeling is hopeful anticipation and excited searching
– craving is activated by brain dopamine and stimulant drugs

LIKING
– liking/satisfaction is fickle and tends to habituate
– the core feeling is physical comfort and social belonging
– activated by brain endorphins and opiate drugs

ADDICTIONS AND COMPULSIVE BEHAVIOURS
– tolerance develops with all drugs and leads to decreased satisfaction
– the wanting/craving system become over-sensitized and easily triggered
– cycles of withdrawal and shame create a vicious cycle
– excessive focus on using leads to narrowing of other interests

DEALING WITH CRAVINGS
– change your environment (people, places, things) to reduce exposure
– identify emotional triggers. including boredom and loneliness
– be aware of your efforts to rationalize or bargain with yourself
– re-learn simple satisfactions rather than pursuing shiny new objects
– learn relapse prevention techniques here

SEE ALSO
Why Disappointment Is So Devastating: Dopamine, Addiction, and the Hedonic Treadmill
The Science of Craving
Addiction and the Opponent Process Theory