Why Don’t Addicts Just Stop Drinking, Taking Pills, or Shooting Up?
If people could just stop using or quit using then they wouldn’t have an addiction. Consequently, the diagnostic criteria involve a compulsion and craving to use, that’s a neurological change in the brain. This is not something that has anything to do with willpower, it’s something that’s involuntary. People engage in all sorts of involuntary muscle movements.
In terms of compulsion, we do about 95% to all of our activities are a result of condition responses to things. People don’t actively think about how to turn left or turn right when driving a car, that’s a conditioned response where you calculate the speed of the automobile and what’s going on on the left, so your brain is already conditioned to do those things. You’re not actively thinking about driving when you’re driving. The same thing applies to an addiction. When you have an addiction, neurologically in your brain what’s happening is those things are going on full time. Your brain may be actively looking at the next time you can use drugs or what’s going on so that in couple with anxiety puts the person in a neurological position where the reward salience of the drug is a positive reinforcement on the subconscious level is overpowering the cognitive ability prefrontal cortex to down regulate or to inhibit those impulsive behaviors.
Addiction for sure is an impulsive behavior that gets people to use a substance to decrease that stress or anxiety they feel and they have no control whatsoever over that until they are treated successfully, which takes an appreciable amount of time, perhaps up to two years.
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