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Video: The Hedonist Trap - The Quality Of Life
Banquet after the international conference on psychotherapy. One of the participants is too addicted to alcoholic beverages, causing sidelong glances from others. They start talking about pathological addictions. Colleagues argue that absolutely every person is dependent on something, but we still have extremely limited freedom to choose between more or less harmful addiction.
Life by pattern
There are no people without addictions. Our brain is balanced: it maintains a certain balance between the formation of static neural structures and plasticity. Imagine a person whose nervous system is "absolutely plastic". This means that every new day we will have to learn to walk again, to understand human speech, etc.; that we will not remember our past, therefore there can be no talk of "I" and self-identity.
In the same way, it is impossible to imagine a person whose neurostructures are “absolutely static”. In this case, we will get a robot with predictable behavior within the framework of several unpretentious algorithms, which will be defenseless against any external cataclysms.
An example of static structures can be called human habits - repetitive patterns of behavior
In everyday language, we often use the phrase "bad habits" in relation to addictive behavior, such as smoking or alcohol abuse. But the spectrum of ideas about "bad habits" is usually too wide; “Harmfulness” is largely determined by social factors, and not by medical ones.
For example, representatives of the older generation are very fond of declaring a youth fashion trend that they do not understand as a "bad habit", such as tattooing or hunting Pokemon. In addition, bad habits and addictions often include completely inappropriate behaviors like nail biting (this is an obsession, not an addiction) or panic attacks (this is a panic disorder that also has little to do with addictions).
From a medical point of view, there are two types of addictions - chemical and non-chemical. Chemical addictions are associated with the intake of psychoactive substances (PAS). Non-chemical addiction is a rigid, fixed way of behavior associated with the satisfaction of any attraction.
All addictions have common properties (distinguishing them from common "bad habits"), here are the main ones:
- 1) Irresistible and obsessive craving, the desire to repeat the use of surfactants or routine behavior in case of non-chemical dependence.
- 2) Inability to control their behavior associated with addiction (time of its beginning, end, total duration, sequence of actions, etc.). Realizing that you’ve lost control of your life can paradoxically reinforce addictive behavior.
- 3) Withdrawal ("withdrawal syndrome") - a sharp deterioration in the case of a sharp cessation of dependence.
- 4) Tolerance ("addictive effect") - positive feelings associated with the use of psychoactive substances or addictive behavior become dull over time, which is why it is necessary to constantly increase the "dose".
- 5) "Emotional swing" - initially, addiction helps to relieve stress or to realize any suppressed attraction, which causes positive emotions. But then addictive behavior becomes less and less effective (see tolerance), provokes conflicts with other people, gives rise to feelings of guilt, etc. The mood becomes unstable, attached to the cycle of addictive behavior.
- 6) Absorption by addiction, when it becomes the only important "meaning of life", and all other spheres of life (family, work, hobbies, etc.) are devalued.
These six criteria usually make it possible to accurately distinguish pathological dependence from a simple habit or temporary hobby. But the insidiousness of dependence lies precisely in the fact that it subjugates the consciousness and will of a person imperceptibly, gradually. The stronger the addiction, the more a person deceives himself.
When it comes to chemical addiction, the first alarm bell is the loss of control over consumption
It's like a typical joke about smokers: “Yes, I can quit at any time! I've quit smoking hundreds of times. Just before I came to you, I just threw it away."
The use of psychoactive substances (even not prohibited by law) is usually strictly regulated by social norms. This means that if, in the opinion of those around him, the conference participant (from the example at the beginning of the article) “went over”, then it means that it is so. He lost control over his behavior, and from the outside it is always more visible.
If there is no dependence, then the person is ready to hear this unpleasant feedback. And in the future he will try to correct his behavior. If the addiction is strong, then the negative feedback is ignored, and the addicted person begins to look for a social circle where his “bad habit” will be approved and supported.
Typically, people become aware that they are addicted when faced with intense experiences of irresistible cravings and dysphoria (low mood) in the case of "withdrawal syndrome." At the same time, the realization comes that “something is wrong with me” and that it is time to get rid of addiction. But how to do that?
Path to freedom
To get rid of chemical addiction, you definitely need the help of a narcologist who will help you detoxify the body. The second step is to work with a psychotherapist, and the third step is social and psychological rehabilitation. This path is long, but with non-chemical addictions, it is slightly shortened, since detoxification is not needed.
Addictions are often called the "hedonistic trap of the present." A person lives in vain attempts to stop the moment and "catch an eternal high." At the same time, he denies the past (in which the cause of addiction) and diligently avoids thinking about the future (which scares him). To get rid of addiction, you need to rethink and "let go" of the past.
You should also re-evaluate the future, find in it something more significant and attractive than momentary pleasure. Psychotherapy helps to neutralize the roots of addiction and help build a picture of a "bright future" where addiction is simply not needed.
Getting rid of any particular addiction does not at all mean that a new one will not arise in its place. The ability of the brain to form static structures (which underlie all our habits and persistent attachments) is natural. But what content this structure will be filled with depends on us!