Addiction is a chronic disorder with biological, psychological, emotional, social, environmental, and other factors influencing its development and maintenance. An individual who struggles with addiction uses a substance or engages in prolific behavior that satisfies them enough to repeat the behavior despite monumental and detrimental consequences. Addiction may involve the use of substances such as alcohol, inhalants, opioids, cocaine, and nicotine, or behaviors such as gambling and sex.

About half of the risk for addiction is genetic because of evidence that links addictive behavior with sharing neurobiological factors. These neurobiological factors include the brain pathways of reward and reinforcement, involving the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is our brain’s instant feel good chemical; our brain releases this neurotransmitter chemical when we engage in behavior that satisfies us. Dopamine causes an increase in the general level of arousal towards goal-directed behavior.

Much of the stigma surrounding addiction stems from addiction being co-morbid, also known as accompanying an already present mental health condition like depression or anxiety. For example, both substance use disorders and gambling behaviors have an increased likelihood of comorbidity with depression, anxiety, and other health conditions. Both of these disorders engage the same brain mechanisms and follow the same treatment practice for depression and anxiety. Addiction is severe, chronic, and dominating that individuals who struggle with addiction are unaware that their behavior is causing them problems for themselves and those who care about them.

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Addictions. American Psychological Association.

 Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Addiction. Psychology Today.

Written by: Abrea, 2021 Undergraduate Intern

Want to talk to someone who can help? If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this or other negative thoughts and are in the Chicagoland area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

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