If you have ever wondered how addiction hijacks the brain, then you are in the right place. The brain mechanisms behind addiction are truly mind-blowing. Let me tell you how it happens.
Use→ Misuse → Abuse → Addiction Hijacks the Brain
First comes use. No big deal, right? A person watches porn to chill for a little while. Perhaps he tries a new drug at a friend’s request or takes their first sip of alcohol. For some people, this is not incredibly harmful. For others, it is the beginning of a long-term problem. Addiction can hijack the brain after just the second use. Many times the hijacking begins even as early as the first consumption.
Slippery Slope of Addiction
What starts as a casual habit can quickly degrade into addiction due to the brain mechanisms involved. This is what happens. At first exposure, the brain gets a 20 mg dump of dopamine into the system. This surge of feel-good chemicals in the brain is much more than can be achieved by experience in real life. Thus, with this large dose of dopamine, the brain remembers the experience and wants to come back for more. And so it does. The brain, being the most sophisticated thing in the world, tries to calibrate itself back to normal. In doing so, it makes it so that you need to consume more to get the same”high”. More booze, more drugs, or more porn. Get your sled, because here comes the slope.
How Does Brain Functioning Change with Exposure to Addictive Behaviors?
The second exposure is much like the first, but this time the brain knows it is being knocked off its feet a bit. It course corrects by stoppering the dopamine release so the brain stays at its regular 10 mg level. Thus, the person wants to experience the same initial “hit” they had last time and they will ramp up the amount of their chosen substance or behavior. This is a tolerance being built right away in the brain. Over time, the brain will need more and more to get the same feeling. This is called tolerance. With increased tolerance, the brain cannot exist without getting its hit. If you don’t give it the drug of choice, you will experience withdrawal. Porn is so powerful using this brain mechanism that it is now called “the new drug” even though it is not technically a substance.
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Delta FosB Switched On in Addiction
In the brain, a transcription factor, Delta FosB, is being switched on during this initial exposure. It switches on and creates a brain pattern that needs more and more of the desired addictive behavior just to feel OK, not even good, just OK. This switch creates an addictive brain and is now considered a biomarker for addiction. The hijacked, addicted brain NEEDS more. The person may not even want to keep acting out, but the brain will make him do so. It is literally like having a hijacker take your car and put you in the passenger seat for the wild ride that destroys your life It is time to take back control.
Who is At-Risk for Addictions?
People who have brains that crave stimulation and/or need to be calmed lean toward addictions over time. In fact, brains that need both at the same time are the most at-risk.
We know from science that the ADHD brain is one of too much slow brain speed theta. This pattern seeks excessive stimulation to help it feel alert and engaging. The anxiety brain pattern is one of too much extra fast speed High Beta. This pattern is one of overdrive and needs to be slowed down to feel calm. Yes, both patterns often are used at the same time, and no, they do not cancel each other out.
What Brain Pattern Type is Most At-Risk for Addictions?
What happens is that the brain is using the speeds out in the extremes and not in the middle where calm, focused attention occurs. So, the person may feel stressed, anxious, and bored simultaneously. This leads them to crave a substance or behavior that takes the edge off of the feelings created by the brain pattern for them. This craving is at the beginning of a possible addiction.
How is Childhood Trauma Related to Addictions?
Unfortunately, childhood trauma has everything to do with addictions. In fact, most people who are highly susceptible to addiction come from a home with physical, sexual, or verbal abuse and some levels of neglect. Their behavior of choice is often a reflection of what they were exposed to during this time in their life. It is in this way addictions run in the family. Genes have been found to play a role in addiction too. When genes and trauma are combined it is a nasty combination when it comes to addiction.
The addiction of choice is that which the child or teenager is exposed to at the age of trauma. If exposed to porn or sex, then this becomes the compulsion. Alcohol and drugs serve the same purpose in an addictive cycle. Self-soothing is at the core of addictions. Numbing the pain of the trauma using the very mechanism that created it. Addiction is elusive.
How Did Neurofeedback Successfully Treat Addiction?
As you saw above, addictions stem from a brain that needs stimulation (too much Theta) and calming (too much High Beta). Thus, reducing Theta slow speed in the brain and High Beta extra fast speed can reduce the likelihood that a person may succumb to addictive behaviors. We also know that trauma can be stuck in the brain and need to be released. Trauma shows up in EEG as low power. Neurofeedback can address the high levels of Theta, High, Beta, and low power all at the same time. When the brain is gently coaxed from the dysregulated pattern to the regulated, optimal pattern, it no longer needs something to soothe it. It can be free to happily exist without behavior to make it feel better. But, don’t forget to use the client’s qEEG Brain Map as the guiding post for treatment.
How Dr. Trish Leigh Can Help You.
Through specialized neuroscientific technology and techniques, Dr. Trish Leigh can help you shift your brain from its current operating mode to the new, improved mode of calm, focus.
Join me for your personalized Neuro Training program. Not only will you enjoy the process, but you will also end up a better version of yourself too. Read all about the Neuro training program which includes individual coaching. If it feels good to you, I would love to help you accomplish your goals. If you struggle with addiction or are moving in that direction, contact Dr. Trish Leigh NOW. The more you use your current brain pattern, the worse your situation will get. The key is to interrupt the pattern. Dr. Trish Leigh can help you do that. Contact her HERE.