Addiction can refer to physical or mental dependence on an activity that hampers a healthy lifestyle. When you have a physical addiction to a substance, chemical changes in your body make you feel like you need the drug. Psychological addiction can cause you to turn to drugs in response to environmental cues or stress. It’s important to understand the psychology of addictive behaviors to effectively stop them.
Compulsion And The Psychology Of Addictive Behaviors
The emotions that lead someone to form an addiction can be overwhelming. These tremendous feelings can overshadow the negative consequences that come from engaging in the addictive behavior.
Psychologists call them compulsions.
Compulsions can lead people to obsessively vacuum their carpets. They can also cause people to take drugs. The psychology of the addictive behaviors is the same.
In fact, many individuals substitute non-drug compulsive behaviors after they’ve successfully battled an addiction. Some people switch back and forth from drug addictions to other addictive behaviors throughout their lives.
Addictive behaviors can make people feel like they’re in control. However, that feeling is misleading. These compulsive behaviors actually control individuals with addictions until they find a method to truly conquer their feelings of helplessness.
Recognizing Current And Past Feelings
Psychology Today explains that addictive behaviors may stem from a malfunction in part of the brain. The insula is an area of the brain that combines current sensory input with memories to drive behavior.
In animals, the insula simply reads physical cues and turns them into actions. For example, if a cat feels hot, it will seek shade.
The insula has evolved in humans. It transforms physical sensations into emotional reactions. If you get hot, you might feel annoyed. If you get a hug, you may experience joy. The physical rituals of drug use can stimulate the reward centers of the brain via the insula. The reward center may reinforce addiction if individuals associate positive memories with drug use.
How Does Behavioral Therapy Work?
Addictive behavior can become routine. If you always have a drink and sit on the couch when you come home from work, you may begin to want a drink when you relax on the sofa in the early evening regardless of whether it’s after work or not. Changing the addictive behavior involves altering routines and other activities that lead to drug use.
Behavioral therapy doesn’t look into the motivation of the addiction. Instead, it addresses the behaviors that can lead to drug use. It also helps you develop new behaviors to cope with stress and triggers for cravings.
Helping someone beat an addiction involves looking at the psychological, social, behavioral and emotional aspects of the problem. For the best outcomes, the following types of treatment may be combined:
- Individual, group and family therapy
- Dialectical behavioral treatment
- Cognitive behavioral treatment
- Holistic drug therapy
- Life skills rehab
- Mindfulness meditation therapy
- Trauma therapy
Crestview Recovery understands what it takes to support someone who is seeking help for addictive behaviors. Contact us at 866.262.0531 for more information about overcoming addiction or the psychology of addictive behaviors.