Psychology of Addiction : WHY?
If we are going to treat the basic nature of addiction, we need to understand the psychology of addiction. “Why can’t I quit smoking?” “He would promise to never drink again only to come home drunk the next night. Every time. Why?” “She is broke and deep in depths but she still cannot stop taking drugs. Why?
These are just some of the questions asked when a person engages in an act that has an inverse impact in their lives- heath, relationship or finance. Why is it so hard to get rid of addiction? Or more precisely, why is he/she addicted to the particular act?
Psychology means the scientific study of the human mind and its functions, in this context, those affecting behavior of an addict.
Human beings are naturally engaged in the pursuit of pleasure; sensually self-indulgent. Everyone does something that gives them a sense of pleasure, trill, satisfaction and comfort. However, overdoing it to the point of self-harm- mentally, socially, spiritually or physically is term simply as an addiction. Drugs, alcohol, smoking, sex or shopping are some of the most common indulgences that becomes repetitive and turn into addictions.
To understand addiction, we need to get to the root cause of it. As Lance Dodes, a retired clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, points it out in his book The sober truth, the focus is not on the addictive act itself, but on the feelings and events that preceded the very first thought of enacting an addictive behavior, when the sense of being utterly trapped arose.
For example, at 1 p.m. a man thinks of having a drink after work. He waits until 5 p.m. when he does go to a bar. To figure out the issues behind his addiction, the moment to focus on is not when he had the drink, but what was happening just before 1 p.m. that led him to feel overwhelmingly helpless. This point in time is calledthe “key moment” in addiction. It often occurs quite long before the act of addiction.
Every addictive act is preceded by a feeling of overwhelming helplessness or powerlessness. Examples- Frustration at work, immense grief of losing a love one or joblessness and boredom. The particular situations or feelings that produce this helplessness are different for different people.
Addictive behavior reverses these underlying feeling of helplessness. The behavior is able to do this because taking an addictive action (or even deciding to take this action) is a way of doing something that the person expects will make him feel better, occupy him, a distraction, an act that is completely in his own control. Hence, this action creates a sense of being in power, of regaining control against helplessness. The reversal of helplessness is the psychological function of addiction.
Addiction are displacements of attention, a substitute action for taking a direct action. For example, a person with drug addiction comes home to dysfunctional family with herparents shouting and arguing over every matter. Depressed, she feels an intense compulsionto take pills to keep her from thinking. She is attempting to solve the problem of feeling helpless by taking an action that is completely in her control and that she expects will make her feel better. Butthis action is actually a substitute for a more direct response. Such as confronting her parents, talking about it to someone who can help or moving out.
In treatment of a person with an addiction, it is important to locate the more direct actions that could have been taken. Along with this, it is important to explore why those direct actions felt impossible at the time too young, low self-esteem, fears, and insecurities or maybe just didn’t know better.
Understanding the psychology behind the addictive behavior is the most important part of treating an addiction. It can help the patient express and let go of things that leads them to addiction. For example, the inability to overcome grieve of losing loved ones has often lead to alcoholism. Rehab and therapy can direct one to a healthier way of expressing grieve and overcoming it as in with many other form of addiction- Drugs, sex, gambling, smoking or shopping.
Addiction is a psychological symptom and recognizing the issue behind the addiction, the psychologyis foremost in eliminating the addiction for good.
To kill weeds, it must be rooted out.