Beautiful TV pictures lobby alcohol consumption and gambling. How addiction is creeping into our lives
The human brain can be addicted to everything from sugar and caffeine to heroin. The difference is only in the intensity of the drug itself, but also in the fact that humans are in a constant relationship with someone or something. If emotional intensity is lacking in the emotional connections in one’s life, it can be sought with another stimulus: a drug, alcohol, gambling, food, etc.
Another variable for the onset of an addiction is the amount of substance consumed, which alters the level of dopamine in the body, the main factor responsible for the organic state of well-being.
Which is considered the most powerful drug
The most powerful drug is considered to be nicotine, as it is rapidly absorbed into the body and for this reason addiction can occur after very few repetitions of smoking behavior. Judith Grissel is one of the world’s leading addiction researchers, herself a former user, but with over 30 years of research experience in the field. She argues in her book “Never Enough” that there is not and never will be a cure for addiction.
Neuroscience, a valuable area of research, tells us that our brains can never imagine that we would give them something that would harm them. So, when someone repeatedly ingests toxic substances, our brain “takes our word for it” and tries to adapt, to integrate what we give it.
The brain doesn’t instantly “reject or eliminate” a particular consuming behavior, but strives to absorb the substance or behavior as information and gradually it will demand more and more of what we have given it. If, the process of consuming drugs of any kind is interrupted, the brain “rebels” by intensifying the craving reaction, especially in the presence of the environment or stressor in our lives.
How is addiction established?
In short, it occurs between the initial response to the drug (or other powerful stimulus) and the adaptation of responses to this external stimulus. Our brain is always in motion and even when we are quiet it is processing. Metaphorically if you will, it’s like sea water that creates waves depending on the type of activity it’s involved in.
When we are at rest, relaxed, the waves are smooth and small, but when we are caught up in something intense, the activity increases in intensity.
Is what psychotherapy defining as a psychological process – the tendency to maintain a certain state by a person or family members in order to protect themselves, to maintain a certain relational or emotional shape and dynamic. It can be both negative and positive and depends on habituating patterns and maintaining them when speaking negatively or integrating changes with the aim of growth when speaking positively.
In the case of addictions, it will never be enough to know the methods to give clear prescriptions. It is also always necessary to change the context, whether it is the physical environment (removing the person from the environment), the toxic context or, as family therapists, we will also invite the family to work with the addicted person.
It is important to bear in mind that most of the time there is also a codependent who can be a husband, wife and even one of the children or, in exceptional situations, there can be several codependents.
Dopamine is to blame!
Science has already shown us that every activity in the brain influences dopamine levels. When we have an unpleasant state and we don’t make an individual effort to be aware of it, to transact it, to be with those negative emotions, as we would be with a person in need, but we immediately resort to a cigarette, food or alcohol, our brain associate relaxation with the drug. And dopamine is released through an unhealthy psycho-emotional process which, through repetition, causes the need to increase and ultimately establishes physical dependence.
Social messaging and substance use
Unfortunately, to a large extent, social messages contribute to the idea that alcohol consumption or gambling addiction, for example, are normal. These messages are constantly consumed through the media.
Thus, these so-called normal mechanisms are taken up by young people who become adults and who understand that the feeling of well-being, the reward for winning, for example, is often associated with alcohol consumption. They pick up such behavior later in their relationships and in their future families with young children, who in turn will notice early on that their parents relax by drinking alcohol. Alcohol is also frequently used to celebrate a get-together with friends or even as a gift of great honor. Having a beer or a glass of wine at a party with friends is acceptable, but getting together with them so you can have a drink is dysfunctional, risky behavior.
One of the colleagues at a workshop on addiction I recently attended, who lives in Norway, said that since 1970 they have banned alcohol advertising both in the media and in public, physically. At the same time, supermarkets in Norway are only allowed to sell alcohol until 4pm and this product, consumed in the HORECA system, is very expensive.
All these administrative decisions were taken consciously following major experiences of high alcohol consumption in the population.
As a parent, I often find myself in the position of explaining to my child why certain adverts are shown on TV and what they mean. I offer the explanations not necessarily because I am being asked by an almost 5-year-old, but because occasionally when she watches TV, I am aware of how she observes and receives the emotional message of the information.
I urge you to explain to your children the purpose of commercials and how much real information they contain. It is important for them to know that a message viewed 10 times a day that leads you to the feeling of pleasure associated with sweets is not necessarily normality and that there is in fact no particular rule by which we should build our lives, belief system and/or decisions.
For example, a parent is not obliged to consume alcohol often. There may be a situation where the more ill-tempered, emotionally distant, non-social father consumes alcohol when he comes home upset, and after a few sips becomes more easy-going, sociable and by default communicative/approachable. The child who sees the scene repeated, over and over again, will unconsciously take on board the message that this is a way to loosen up and get closer to others.
By the age of 25 the human brain is constantly developing. And if it forms around addictions, then the risk of drug use for the younger generation is very high, and recovery is difficult; because, can’t we emotionally disbelieve our parents.
Photo source: https://www.ips-apprenticeships.co.uk/