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This is part one of a two-part series about how obsession and compulsion drive addiction.
When you are addicted to substances or behaviors, you are often completely baffled by the choices you make in pursuit of your addiction. Strangely enough – they don’t feel like choices. When you are hooked on drugs or alcohol, it doesn’t feel like a choice to get high or drunk. If you are addicted to gambling, it feels like a power greater than you takes control over you and drives you to gamble – even when you don’t want to. This also true of addictions like sex, binge-eating, shopping, and watching pornography.
How can this be? How can it seem like you are NOT making choices where addiction is concerned when you are a human being with free will who has the power to make your own choices? This is a very profound and perplexing question.
Most people say they feel a sense of powerlessness when it comes to their addiction – as if they have absolutely no control of it. Others say they feel as if they are a slave to their habit, like are being forced to engage in the addictive cycle against their own will. Can you relate to these experiences? If so, it would probably help if you had an explanation to help you better understand your behavior.
If you are looking for answers about what motivates your addictive behaviors. It is important for you to understand that obsessive-compulsive cycle drive addiction. While there is a lot of complexity involved in the brain science behind addiction – with psychology being an important factor – we want to break down addiction in the simplest terms. That way, you don’t have to be bogged down with a lot of medical data and scientific explanation.
Let’s talk a little bit about obsession and compulsion.
Obsession is defined as “an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.”
Addiction has a special way of preoccupying your thoughts and intruding on your mind. You can be at work, for example, and suddenly a thought about drugs, alcohol, gambling, etc. can intrude on your thoughts. It seems to come out of nowhere. Before long, it begins to preoccupy your mind. Suddenly, it’s all you can think about.
When you continually think about your addictive behavior, you are in the throes of the cycle of obsession. This means that your mind gets on a kind of loop where it thinks about it over and over constantly. During this time, you will forget all the reasons why you are trying to stay away from your “drug of choice” and begin manufacturing reasons why it would be a good idea to “get high.” Addictive obsessions cause you to lose your ability to think rationally.
There is a reason why you obsess about your addictive behavior. It is because your brain likes the way it feels. It produces powerful feel good chemicals that make you feel euphoric, which your brain wants more of. So, in order to motivate you to drink some alcohol or go on a shopping binge, it starts sending signals to you that it wants to engage in your addiction of choice.
Be sure to read Obsession And Compulsion – The Driving Forces Behind Addiction: Part Two
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