How do we get addicted to things?


I know that we get addiction (drugs, alcohol, video games etc) because our brain gives out dopamine when we participate in those behaviours an all. But, for example, I could like something (eg. painting) which would give out dopamine to my brain but still not be addicted to it. My question is then, what causes us from liking something to it turning into an addiction? Like I could like video games and still not be addicted to it. It still gives out dopamine but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be addicted to it. What are the necessary factors for turning something we like to becoming addicted to it? It is maybe, the amount of dopamine it gives, or is it how quickly we feel the dopamine?

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6 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s usually defined based on what you do with that dopamine. You can get a dopamine hit while playing video games. If you’re able to turn it off when it’s time to go to work, or to go out on a date, you’re probably not addicted.

If you skip work, or do other things that are detrimental to your well-being so that you can play video games, that’s when you may be classified as addicted.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Addiction is a lot more complicated than that. If you are asking the question the way you are you probably dont have it. Addictoin can be genetic, caused by trama, or mental issues. It isnt just the rush, its a constant struggle to manage.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Escape is a big part of it. If your life is fine, you would have no problems returning to it after losing yourself in a substance or activity. If your life sucks, anything that let’s you temporarily escape from it can become an obsession.

It becomes even worse if the obsession has negative consequences of it’s own, such as debt, health issues or physical addiction, because that makes the reality you want to escape from even more overwhelming.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Not an authority but:It’s not just about dopamine. There are lots of factors that can influence how your body begins to have dependencies.

Using caffeine as an example (I have a caffeine dependency), prolonged intake of a substance can alter the chemistry in your body and your brain, after so long with repeated exposure, your brain reaches an equilibrium with the presence of the drug, and then when that drug is taken away you can develop withdrawl symptoms from the imbalance caused from the now absence of that drug.

Withdrawl can be extremely painful, and sometimes with extreme addiction the symptoms can be fatal.

When it comes to video games. I think it’s more complicated, but I think it’s more a question of habit, you develop a habit and deviation from the habit can cause stress and anxiety depending on the person. It’s the same with people going to the gym regularly can feel stressed if they haven’t been for a while because it’s what they usually do. This is more in the realm of developing personality disorders than chemical dependency.

Behaviours and habits are more psychology than drugs and alcohol which are more biology and body chemistry.

Put more simply. Drugs change your body to need more drugs, when you take more drugs you need more drugs. Removing the drugs hurts.
Playing games makes you happy, not playing games does not make you happy. Removing games can be stressful but not harmful.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There is a bit of biology as well as psychology in the answer here.

The biological answer can come when the body becomes dependant on the dopamine or other chemicals released or introduced into the body. Adrenaline for example as another natural chemical or alcohol for an introduced chemical.

How an individual’s body reacts to said chemical, plays a role in becoming addicted. For example, an adrenaline “junkie” as it’s called, does not get the same rush from an activity either because the body has developed a resistance to the amount of adrenaline released or because the person no longer finds that particular activity “thrilling”. So in order to obtain a rush again, they have to increase the danger of their activity.

This is also a similar effect of taking narcotics and alcohol – a person has to consume more to generate the same feeling.

The second part of addiction can be psychological in that they become socially or professionally dependant on the activity or drug in question. They become “conditioned” to being addicted. For example an introverted person who struggles with social situations, may have a few drinks to help them relax before hanging out with friends. Eventually the brain begins to equate going out to drinking, and you will feel the pull to have a few drinks before going out. This is a conditioned response in your brain, not dependant (at least initially) on the chemical response but the social interaction.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Think of it like people offering to give you money just to visit them. If person 1 gives you $10 per visit, then you’d probably appreciate it. If person 2 gives you $20 per visit, you’d probably appreciate it more.

Now let’s say person 1 requires you to say hello and have a conversation with them before they give you the money, while person 2 only requires you to give them a hi-five. It’s not difficult or bad to have a conversation with person 1, but it’s much easier to just give a hi-five to person 2 and be done. If you’re stressed, tired, or just in a hurry then its much easier to just give person 2 a hi-five and collect twice as much money as person 1 is offering.

In this scenario, the dollars are the dopamine and each person’s requirements are the behaviors. It’s fine to do a fun activity and receive some dopamine as a reward— that’s just naturally how our brains are wired. However, it’s much easier and often less time consuming to get an artificially high amount of dopamine via drug use. Our brains aren’t naturally wired to handle that much dopamine for so little effort. That creates unhealthy dependencies and the side effects of drugs are detrimental to your health, too.