How Behavioral Addictions Change Your Brain

If you're like most people, you think about drugs and alcohol when you contemplate addiction. Behaviors such as shopping, gambling, and sex can be just as addictive. Much like drugs and alcohol, these addictions steadily alter brain chemistry, giving them progressively more power over your life and behavior.

Changes in Brain Function and Chemistry
Drugs and alcohol artificially stimulate the brain's reward centers, but behaviors do it naturally. Sex, for example, releases a hormone called oxytocin that can lead to feelings of love, safety, and well-being. Shopping stimulates dopamine production, helping you feel like you've done something positive and rewarding.

These changes in brain chemistry give you a quick rush that feels more subtle than the high you get with drugs. Consequently,y u may continue with the behavior without even realizing you're becoming an addict. Over time, your brain produces fewer feel-good chemicals. This causes most addicts to continue pursuing the addictive behavior in an attempt to get the same feelings they once got. A sex addict might progress from periodic sex with a partner to compulsive sex to sex multiple times each day, all in an attempt to get a “natural” high.

Preserving Your Addiction
The brain chemical rush you get from a behavioral addiction is almost identical to the chemical changes your brain undergoes when you use drugs and alcohol. Thus a behavioral addiction is simply a shortcut to a naturally-induced high. The more frequently you seek such a high, the more likely it is that you will become an addict. And once you become an addict, the search for pleasure compels you to persist with the behavior, even when it causes you serious life difficulties.
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  • Very interesting -- I think it might explain what I've noticed of my behaviour, going from one "addicting hobby" to the next in a circle whenever I started feeling numb with one? Because by switching to something new, I get the new rush... a bit like those people who stay in a relationship just three weeks, the first three weeks of excitement!
  • "shopping stimulates dopamine production, helping you feel like you'e does something positive and rewarding". How very true! I absolutely relate to that. I certainly get a rush if I find something wonderful and unique that's reasonably priced. Then I do feel satisfied, like I've accomplished something good when I purchase it. Really shows you can become addicted to just about  anything. 
  • What causes addiction is the mind. The misconception or the real cause being hidden in one's mind. Solving drug addiction in society  can be futile. Preventing the problem by finding the root and extracting it addresses and can effectively cease addiction on the other hand is logical.
  • @juortega yes your right, the mind causes the addiction in the first place. The addiction is just a symptom, the brain saw a way into a substance of dealing easier with some problems, and made a solution out of it. My belief is that every addiction cause stand into the brain, and if you can find that, face your inner demons, you can go free at any point.
  • True addicts seem to have one aspect of their addiction in common... It's always a vice. Sex, drinking, drugs, eating...
  • Once you get addicted you  can never find that high again, can you?
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