Saturday, October 28, 2006

Out-of-Control Habits

Today, addiction and compulsive behavior of all kinds seem rampant. But what is the nature of addiction, and how do we explain its hold over certain individuals? But when and how does simple experiment or indulgence spiral into a full-blown addiction?The Nature of Addiction - One theory is that some addicts have abnormally low levels of some of the body's naturally occurring neurochemicals which affect mood and behavior, and when the balance is tipped, an addicted person may try to compensate by ingesting a substance that produces the same, or a far more intense, feeling. In this light, addiction seems to stem from an effort to self-medicate. How does compulsive shopping, gambling, or other non-chemical addictions fit the self-medication model of addiction? Some experts believe that every addiction is a search for wholeness or inner peace, and compulsive behavior is yet another misguided attempt to fill an internal void. If this is true, then any effort to conquer an addiction must be accompanied by an exploration of what has created this feeling of incompleteness in the first place.

But Alcoholics Anonymous and other self-help groups with a similar approach argue that the substance itself creates the need. The important thing is absolute avoidance - a goal achieved through the group support of people with the same addictions, along with recognition of self-destructive behavior patterns, and assistance in overcoming them.

In fact, Alcoholics Anonymous (as well as many medical experts) consider addiction to be disease. This theory is now applied very broadly not just to alcoholism, but to every conceivable form of addictive or compulsive behavior.

Overwhelmed by Outside Forces - Some experts support the view that addiction is influenced by a external factors - that family environment plays a part, as do cultural norms, peer pressure, and other factors. And still another group suggest that our over-reliance on drugs and medical technology to cure everything from bad breath to bad moods has made us too ready to try to fix every twinge and unpleasant feeling we experience.

Most experts agree that addicts need to do more than just kick their habits.

Read full article "Out-of-Control Habits"


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