Behind the Face of Addiction

We envision black eyes, aged faces, sobbing families and cries for a new beginning. It is what some fear to admit most, in angst that their lives could crumble, while for others it is the signal for change.

Addiction is among us, in forms that are not obvious to society. If we are uneducated on addiction, how are we able to make the judgement on ‘addicts’?

According to Psychology today, addiction is a “condition that results when a person ingests a substance or engages in an activity that can be pleasurable but the continuation of which becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities and concerns, such as work, relationships or health”.

Addiction is commonly associated with drugs, gambling and alcohol. Although, according to scientific research, it is possible to be addicted to anything, for example work. Individuals can be obsessed with their work to the extent that they begin to suffer from physical and mental exhaustion. Another example is solvents, the inhalation of substances such as glue or paint to give you the feeling of intoxication.

 There are multiple perspectives on the neurological findings of addiction. According to the Institute of Medicine, it suggests that social environmental and psychological factors are contributing aspects to addiction. Each time we do something pleasurable, the human brain is equipped to reward us. Our daily behaviours linked to health and survival releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is one of the chemicals that transmit information from one neuron to the next. How are we affected by dopamine is determined by where it comes from and the role in which it plays when

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 releasing and receiving neurons.

 Within the brain, there are two main areas that produce and disseminate dopamine, the Substantia Nigra and the Ventral Tegmental area. Dopamine from the substantia nigra allows us to move and begin speech, where as the ventral tegmental sends dopamine to the brain once we expect or received a reward.

 Dopamine can be triggered by anything that alludes to pleasure and reward; the feeling of ‘high’ is awoken when the dopamine is activated. It is the feeling that prompts individuals to continue to seek this ‘high’ repeatedly, and ultimately leading to addiction.

 It is apparent that there is more beyond the surface of addiction. Understanding the way in which it affects an individual’s mental capacity is integral before assuming the generic perceptions of addicts.

For more information on Dopamine and movement: http://www.brainfacts.org/thinking-sensing-and-behaving/movement/2015/dopamine-and-movement

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