Addiction is everywhere.
Some would say such a phrase is being paranoid or overly concerned, but the truth is that addiction is an ever growing problem. We live in a time when the options for pleasure are numerous and easily had.
As a man, it’s something I must be aware of myself. I obviously don’t coke up while out gambling every weekend, but addiction is something that can be far more subtle. As a father, I’ve every reason to be concerned.
The Science of Addiction
There’s a lot of misunderstood science around the phrase “disease” when referenced to addiction. Many think of it as a small bug gets into the brain and makes people do what they want. That’s ridiculous and couldn’t be further from the truth.
A study about the medical changes the brain goes through when undergoing addiction shows how, for those susceptible, something as simple as the act of doing something you enjoy can become an addictive habit.
Addiction goes through three stages, and cycles between them:
- Binge and Intoxication
- Withdrawal and Negative Affect
- Preoccupation and Anticipation
In each step, the chemical responses of the brain are altered by repeated indulgence of the activity or substance that floods the brain with dopamine. It creates alternate responses to stress, brings down mood as the dopamine leaves the system, and changes to the prefrontal cortical regions interferes with their decision making abilities.
As the addiction is fed, it becomes harder and harder for the person to stop the actions that caused it in the first place, to the point where the brain makes excuses even while the person may not want to indulge.
It’s an alarming cycle that can be difficult to escape from.
A Father’s Hope
As we come to understand the science behind addiction, this means that we can also understand what we can do to help fight it.
The first step is of course prevention. If you never become addicted, you never have to face the struggle. This doesn’t mean keeping my daughter from doing anything she enjoys, but there are things that should be monitored and certain unhealthy behaviors to be outright avoided.
Barring that, it can be a terrible thing to face the truth that she has actually become addicted to something. Grades and social life suffer; she’s become a different person. Fortunately, there are things we can do.
Detox as well as chemical supplements to help counteract the brain’s response to dopamine and the need to binge.
Recovering from addiction is a time-consuming process, but with support and dedication I am hopeful that it’s something that can be overcome.
Tyler Jacobson is a father, husband, and freelancer, with experience in writing and outreach for parent and organizations that help troubled teen girls. Tyler has offered humor and research backed advice to readers on parenting tactics, problems in education, issues with social media, mental disorders, addiction, and troublesome issues raising teens.