When seeking a definition of addiction what is it? what causes it? and how it is understood, is still debated. Addiction is often thought of solely in the context of, being addicted to a thing or an activity, but that definition is focused on someone who experiences addiction, not what addiction is; what or how addicts experience their addiction is largely irrelevant.
There continues to be much discussion on what addiction is, remaining split by focusing on individual behaviour or substances instead of trying to convey the rationale for this type of behaviour. This quote below much better sums up what addiction is and how it manifests itself.
Writing in Psychology Today Stanton Peele defined addiction in a much more satisfactory way compared to those who focus on the specific manifestation of that addiction:
"Addiction is the search for emotional satisfaction for a sense of security, a sense of being loved, even a sense of control over life. But the gratification is temporary and illusory, and the behaviour results instead in greater self-disgust, reduced psychological security, and poorer coping ability".
As outlined by Peele, addiction is a process of
thinking and dealing and behaving within the world and this process is part of
the emotional coping mechanism used by those who experience addiction to manage
the feelings they have in their lives.
Ultimately, people who are addicts use either a substance,
this could be anything from alcohol or other drugs but also certain food
stuffs; or they may adopt a particular behaviour, which could include gambling,
sex, shopping, which for the addict, occupy the decision making and logical aspect of
the brain and serve also to elicit new positive feelings, overriding and
subduing the negative feelings which the addict associates with their day to
day experiences of the world.
Asking those in addiction what is it they are doing and experiencing they may give lifestyle examples without being able to explain fully why they do what they do.
ADDICTS FIXATE TO BLOCK OUT REALITY
When addicts use a behaviour like shopping or
gambling to block out how they feel, they fixate on the activity. It is not the activity but the total immersion process which is addictive.
For example a gambler is not addicted to the winning, instead it is the gambling process, choosing where to gamble, what to gamble on, what to stake, how the bet is made and watching the bet run its course. Any winnings are often no more than the mechanism to bet again until they have no resources to gamble; rarely are they a source of joy.
When searching for a simple answer to addiction what is it and who is affected by it, it may never be satisfactorily answered as it is a process, a type of behaviour stemming from a way of thinking.
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