Address the symptoms of Addiction


Addictions were first studied in the 1930s, and it was a common belief that people with addictions lacked morals or willpower. The punishment was often the only treatment, which did little to discourage harmful behavior and frustrated doctors and researchers. Since then, research of addictions has evolved, leading us to understand that “addictions hijack the brain”.

Today, these infatuations and compulsions are recognized as chronic diseases that alter the structure and function of the brain. We’ve come to define these addictions as mental disorders in which patients feel the urge to repeatedly use substances or engage in behaviors that have harmful effects on their well-being and those around them.

Facts About Addiction

Pleasure Response

The brain registers pleasure in the same way, regardless of what caused the gratification. For many addiction patients, their pleasure comes from the use of drugs, alcohol, or engaging in a behavior that triggers the pleasure principle and release of the neurotransmitter called dopamine.

When put on repeat, risky behaviors or substance abuse creates a shortcut to the brain’s reward system and floods the brain with two to 10 times more dopamine than natural rewards. The hippocampus holds onto the memories of the satisfaction while the amygdala creates a conditioned response, resulting in the need to repeat the behavior for the rush or the dopamine high.

Long-Term Effects

With each episode of substance use or action, the brain becomes overwhelmed with the rapid flood of dopamine and produces a natural defense to protect itself. The brain gradually reduces the amount of dopamine that’s produced each time your patient partakes in the risky behavior or eliminates dopamine receptors, altogether. Many patients refer to this as “building a tolerance,” and are likely to find themselves turning to stronger substances or more risky behaviors to satisfy desires.

As a psychologist or neurologist, it’s your task to help your patients re-train their brains and re-learn natural reward habits that won’t flood the brain in short and unsustainable bursts of pleasure hormones.

Who Suffers from Addictions?

According to the United States Addictions Center, more than 21 million Americans are living with at least one addiction, yet only about 10% of them seek out and receive treatment, and those between the ages of 18-25 are more likely to use addictive drugs. More than 90% of those living with addiction first started with alcohol or drugs before their 18th birthday and carried their addiction into adulthood. Other factors that lead to addictions might include genetics, environment, and stress level at work or home.

When treating patients with addictions, it’s important to understand their impulses, how long they’ve been using or behaving in this manner, and how their brain is functioning, everything that our neurofeedback program can tell you.

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