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The Psychology of Addiction: What It Takes to Kick a Habit

Update Date: Mar 04, 2020 04:13 PM EST
The Psychology of Addiction: What It Takes to Kick a Habit
(Photo : The Psychology of Addiction: What It Takes to Kick a Habit)

Society likes to think of addiction as a personal defect. If you can't quit drinking, smoking, or using, then the problem is yours - not the drugs.

But that's not true.

The reality of the psychology of addiction is much more complex. Addiction is as chemical as it is psychological, and some drugs can re-wire your brain to make them dependent, even if you want to quit. So when you try to go cold turkey and without support, you may find that beating addiction feels almost impossible.

What does it take to break an addiction? Keep reading to learn more about addiction recovery.

What Does Addiction Do to the Brain?

Why does an addict seek out alcohol or drugs, even when they don't want to? Even when another drink could cause their world to crumble?

There's a biological basis to addiction that makes it hard to quit. The brain changes when it becomes addicted to anything- substance or not.

When your brain is healthy, it rewards behaviors like exercising, meditating, or spending time with people you love. These behaviors are good for you.

If your brain senses danger, then it weighs out the risks and rewards to determine whether it's worth it.

Drugs and alcohol can take over those decision-making circuits and cause you to see that the risk outweighs the reward and continue to go for the risk anyway. This is why some people need to seek out a medical detox to get through the initial withdrawal phase.

When your brain becomes re-wired, it takes work to get past it.

Can Psychology Help Addiction Recovery?

Recovering from addiction often involves some type of therapy. Why is this the case? Because addiction can follow you for the rest of your life, and you need to learn the psychology of it to learn how to manage what will come their way. 

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a well-established addiction-recovery tool that helps people talk through their behaviors and learn how to change them. It is important not only for changing behaviors but also for managing the reality that addiction requires work not just in the months and years after starting recovery but for the rest of their lives.

Often, people complete addiction therapy programs over 30 to 90 days. However, you may find you benefit from therapy for years or even decades after you feel clean and relatively stable.

The Psychology of Addiction is a Force

Finding yourself addicted to alcohol or drugs is the result of an 'addictive personality' or a fault. These substances have the ability to re-wire the brain, and it can be very difficult to overcome.

As a result, overcoming the psychology of addiction requires more than just a 'can-do' mindset. You may find yourself needing both medical and therapeutic help to get through the early days of recovery.

Are you looking for more helpful resources? Visit our Drugs/Therapy archive for more psychology content.

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