Behaviors you do become your habits. If a behavior is reinforced, it has the potential to become compulsive and compulsive habits become dependence. Addictions occur when, despite negative consequences, the behaviour is repeated to get a “perceived” reward.
Memories and Habits
A reward could be anything that raises ones perception of instant well-being. This benefit craving and dependence gas dependence. With repeated usage over time, brain chemistry may get altered to need the material or behaviour to achieve a perceived feeling of normalcy. Without the behaviour or substance, withdrawal symptoms appear. Many addictions become emotionally imbedded within the mind.
The basil ganglia permanently stores memories and habits. These deep relationships lie just under the surface, waiting to be recalled and triggered. This permanent psychological storage being continuously triggered, accounts for relapses and why habits cause lifetime struggles. Some compulsive habits, although not dependence, have clear triggers that start the psychological spiral of longing. This can create a “dependency cycle” in which the trigger contributes to the behavioral reaction, which then leads back to the cause. Those who participate this cycle can start to alter brain pathways which help in reward seeking. This cycle is perpetuated when what individuals decide to use for relief, causes them further distress.
Take as an example, somebody who eats too much. This behaviour makes them feel depressed and guilty, which makes them want to consume more, to numb these feelings. Certain conditions, places, or people might be a cue to activate memories that emphasize a reward on your mind, making a strong desire for the substance or behaviour. Any behavior that’s repeated creates psychological cues and those cues trigger ideas of previous rewards.
As an example, if you regularly got fattening snacks each time you moved into the convenience store, that institution will activate a longing for all those snacks every time you go there again. People participate in potentially harmful behaviors for reward or relief, each creating strong memory cues and institutions. This cue activates the release of dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter, which offers a pleasant feeling or boost. The anticipation of the increased dopamine release strengthens the habit. You want that increase, as well as the related dopamine release cues you to crave the behaviour or substance connected with that reward. Perception and belief will amplify dopamine shooting. The more you consider, believe, and realize the reward will be gratifying, the larger the dopamine release.
People commonly make reward based choices. Compulsive over ingestion is a typical reward-based habit. Overeating, excessive drinking, promiscuity, smoking, gambling, and other similar behaviors can become issues as reward hunting gets out of control. Indulging your appetite for the compulsive behavior produces a more powerful neurotransmitter connection that could perpetuate the negative cycle. Identifying your benefit cues and triggers can help you fight compulsive behavior.
By changing your beliefs and expectations, you also change dopamine release linked to previous behaviours. When you create a new perception about the compulsive situation, you can lessen the neurotransmitter reaction that pushes your cravings for it. Along with compulsive reward seeking and over eating is compulsive over-avoidance. These are threat-based customs. Compulsive over-avoidance is a relief-seeking behaviour.
Things that cause stress, depression, or anxiety can lead to over-avoidance as a coping mechanism to prevent negative feelings. As an example, someone avoids healthy relationships due to a subconscious fear of having their heart broken. Compulsions are more common than you would think, and frequently go unidentified. Uncovering and admitting your compulsions is your first step to taking control of negative behaviour.
The next step is to make a strategy to circumvent it. The last step is implementing your strategy in circumstances where you feel compelled to repeat the undesirable behavior. This sort of intervention can help you break free of harmful mental associations, assist you in the creation of healthy coping steps, and move you toward personal goal attainment.