DEALING WITH ADDICTION

WANTING VS LIKING
– wanting (craving) and liking (satisfaction) are separate aspects of pleasure
– in addictions and compulsive behaviours, wanting exceeds liking and 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
– activated by brain dopamine and stimulant drugs
– triggers are can be any or all reminders of past use

LIKING
– compared to wanting, 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 using and withdrawal create a vicious cycle
– preoccupation with using leads to narrowing of interests and concerns about losing control

DEALING WITH CRAVINGS
– identify emotional triggers. including boredom and loneliness
– be aware of your efforts to rationalize using
– change your environment (people, places, things) to reduce exposure to reminders
– practice urge surfing rather than trying to suppress thoughts
– develop new habits to interpose between triggers and rewards
– re-learn simple satisfactions rather than pursuing shiny new objects
– keep long-term goals in mind
– see information on relapse prevention here

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