We’re All Addicted

“To be physically and mentally dependent on a particular substance, and unable to stop taking it without incurring adverse effects.” This is the definition of what it is to be addicted. That never-ending twitch we get to do something whether it is good or bad for us. It always interested me on the terrible connotation addiction has though. Even for me, the first word I associate with addiction is drugs. That’s just the world we live in; drug addict is seemingly one word. But what about all of the good things plenty of people tend to be addicted too? Eating healthy, working out, reading, learning. “The feeling of pleasure is how a healthy brain identifies and reinforces beneficial behaviors… Our brains are wired to increase the odds that we will repeat pleasurable activities.” For some people those pleasurable activities also happen to be helping them improve.

The thing that I fear is the worst part of addiction is the feeling we get when we aren’t doing what we’re addicted to. Whether the addiction be to drugs, video games, or working our day job; that anxious and uneasy feeling we get when we aren’t doing that can be scary. The easiest way to picture this is to think about a drug addict trying to do anything in their power to get to the next high. But personally, I have not been able to not think about this video game I have been playing recently. They’ve built it in a way that there is a nonstop quest to get your team better which is pretty much parallel with how a bodybuilder may view their journey to have a “perfect body,” or an addict to their euphoric high feeling.

Just as drugs produce intense euphoria, they also produce much larger surges of dopamine, powerfully reinforcing the connection between consumption of the drug, the resulting pleasure, and all the external cues linked to the experience. Large surges of dopamine “teach” the brain to seek drugs at the expense of other, healthier goals and activities.

For me right now, that “drug” is a video game. Same for a lot of kids these days who receive access to an iPad, laptop or gaming console way too early in life. This same phenomenon branches to social media as well. TikTok has the greatest algorithm I’ve ever witnessed and the recurring action of finding another short video that you connect to or that makes you laugh can make hours go by in an instant. This same truth stands for all other social media platforms as well. I am guilty of addiction, as I think we all are. The trick is truly trying to find things that can help us in our lives. No one is perfect but we can all strive to slow down our addictions to the things that aren’t helping us, improve, and shift them to things that can.

Peace & Love.

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